Three years ago, hub and I rode the ferry from Venice, Italy, to Patras, Greece, picked up our rental car and embarked upon one of our greatest trips ever: three weeks of exploring Greece, the birthplace of Western civilization . . .
and the home of some of the most delicious food in the world. . .
Surprisingly, Dolmades aren't difficult to make and easily feed a crowd. After Martha's recipe, there's a YouTube clip that shows how to roll the leaves and then gives a lemon sauce recipe for dipping, if desired. The chef in the video has a different recipe than Martha's for more ideas. You can be really creative. When we lived in Egypt, a neighbor added chopped garlic not only to the rice mixture but put a few cloves of garlic among the layers, along with a few slices of lemon. Other variations exist among the Mediterranean countries and elsewhere.
Martha's Grape Leaves Stuffed with Rice (Dolmadakia Yialandji)
4 medium onions, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup raw rice (short grain)
3/4 cup olive oil
l tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
l/2 cup parsley, chopped (reserve stalks)
3 bunches scallions, including green tops, chopped
1 small grated carrot (optional)
salt and pepper
juice of one lemon
12-ounce jar grapevine leaves (found in most specialty stores and larger supermarkets)
l cup boiling water
Prior to combining ingredients, soak and drain grapevine leaves several times to remove the brine; if you have fresh grapevine leaves, wash carefully.
Steam onions over very low heat with 1 teaspoon salt, stirring occasionally for 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat. Add rice and l/2 cup of olive oil and mix. Add herbs and mix. Add salt and pepper and half the lemon juice.
Separate grapevine leaves carefully. Snip stems. Place 1 tablespoon filling on underside of leaf. Starting at the base, fold over, and fold in sides, rolling tightly toward point. (Note: the video starts with the sides; I think Martha's way gives a tighter roll as these leaves do expand.)
Place reserve stalks and any torn leaves on bottom of pan. Arrange Dolmandakia in layers with seamed side down. Add the remaining lemon juice and 3/4 cup olive oil. Place a plate on top of dolmadakia to prevent them from unrolling.
Cover sauce pan and simmer for 20 minutes over low heat. Add l cup boiling water and simmer for 25 minutes longer. (Note: Video calls for baking leaves. Have never done this so don't know.)
Transfer to platter. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice, if desired.
The YouTube clip is HERE.