Kittie Howard

Friday, April 5, 2013

A Taste of Greece

I love Greek food, and, to be happily honest, it loves me.

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 . . .
Parthenon (Wikipedia)

 and the home of some of the most delicious food in the world. . .

including Dolmadakia Yialandji--also called Dolmades--Stuffed Grape Leaves--and one of my absolute favorites. You can stuff the grape leaves with just about anything, but, for me, the simpler, the better--just a few seasonings with the rice mixture--and there's sheer bliss! (
And, so, I'm sharing with you Martha's recipe (with her permission). Martha's a Greek-American lady I met some years ago at a Christmas function. One taste of her Dolmades and I knew Santa Claus was for real. Oh, yum! Her recipe is very simple, but it works. Instead of being overstuffed with too many competing flavors, these Dolmades are bursting with flavor. And, I didn't have to adjust the salt much (always a personal choice).

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.



D.G. Hudson said...

I like dolmades but have never made them. Vancouver has a few Greek restaurants here and there and a Greek festival in Burnaby every year.

Out on the prairie said...

I have three good places I like to eat.I had a gyros for lunch yesterday.I like how they do lamb, and used too buy whole lambs from a family.

Suze said...

Ah, super tasty. And, yes, excellent with lemon.

Vagabonde said...

I love stuffed grape leaves and will try your recipe. I have eaten many as my father was Armenian, from Turkey, and stuffed grape leaves are also part of the Armenian cuisine. I think everyone in the Mediterranean countries enjoy grape leaves. Every time I visited my cousin in Heliopolis, Egypt, his wife made homemade grape leaves. Much of the Greek cuisine is like the Armenian and Lebanese cuisines – coffee too. My father always made his own “Armenian” coffee, which is like Greek or Turkish coffee. My daughter has an Armenian friend in LA who reads the future from Armenian coffee cups. Have you had your fortune read from coffee? I often get good recipes from one of the blogs I read, it’s called Taste of Beirut (

Melissa Ann Goodwin said...

I love stuffed grape leaves - thanks for the recipe! And this is the second post I've visited this morning related to Greece - one more and I think it's a sign I need to go there!

Clarissa Draper said...

I love stuffed grape leaves. Thanks for the recipe!

Gail Dixon (Louisiana Belle) said...

Stuffed grape leaves is the only Greek food that I like, so thanks for sharing the recipe! And although I am Italian, I don't really care for Italian food, either. Bring on the Cajun, Thai, and Mexican food!

William Kendall said...

I've never heard of dolmades... sounds delicious!

Summer Ross said...

Sounds so yummy! Thank you for the recipe.

Anonymous said...

Sounds great! Thanks for the recipe.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I've heard of dolmades before, just not sure if I would attempt to make them.

'Lara said...

Greece, my dream destination...never heard of dolmades...thanks for the recipe.

Crystal Collier said...

Hm. I have never had those before. We might have to try those! (Asking as I prep some Mac & Cheese for the littles--sparing a some extra cheese for me.

Julie Flanders said...

When I was in college I dated a guy from the Greek portion of Cyprus and I so loved learning about Greek food. I love it too! I haven't had stuffed grape leaves in years and this post brought back a lot of memories. :)

Happy weekend, Kittie!

Suzane Weck said...

Ola,vim desejar um ótimo domingo e deixar meu grande abraço.Su

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Kittie .. I love all food Greek - Mediterranean - Middle Eastern ... so now my mouth is watering ...

I love making Spanokapita .. which I do fairly often ... and is a great standby ..

Cheers - and now I could do with some lunch .. wait a while longer!! Hilary

Thyra said...

Thank you Kittie, I love dolmades, I could eat a whole bunch of them!!
Grethe ´)

joylene said...

I'm drooling. Can't wait to try it! Thanks, Kittie! Love the photos. I'm so wishing I could visit Greece.

Rachel Morgan said...

Oh my goodness, I LOVE Greek food! Thanks to Martha for letting you share the recipe :-)

Lynda R Young said...

My first experience of a Greek cafe in Athens: I asked for a tomato salad from the menu... and got a plate with sliced tomato on it. Giggle.

Inger said...

The food sounds great, your trip -- three weeks in Greece even greater. I'm sorry I didn't travel in Greece when I still lived in Europe.

Laura said...

YUMMY! my stomach is rumbling just reading!

Mary Aalgaard said...

Looks and sounds divine! I'm going to share this recipe with my sister and the Biker Chef. I think they need to make it for me! Ha. They're way better at trying new recipes.
Hope you're having a blast in Greece!

Jen Chandler said...

Oh Yum! I love Greek food but I don't eat nearly enough of it! Which reminds me...I have a Greek cookbook. Looks like I'll be meal planning this week from that!

Thanks for the yummy post and for sharing that wonderful recipe!


Sandra said...

Sounds wonderful, thank you, Kitty!
I will have to try this recipe.

Best wishes

Annmarie Pipa said...

so delicious..looking and tasting. One of my good friends makes this...always a special occasion!

Damyanti said...

wow, the recipe tastes delicious.

Damyanti @Daily(w)rite
Co-host, A to Z Challenge 2013

Twitter: @AprilA2Z
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Inger said...

This sounds wonderful. Thank you for stopping by my blog, reading a little about my crazy life here in these United States. Have a great day, Kittie.