Dolmadakia Stuffed Vine Leaves with Rice
- DF NF GF VG VE
Dolmadakia, or stuffed vine leaves, are probably something you’ve seen on the menu at a Greek restaurant, found in a deli, or have tried if you’ve ever visited Greece. If not - they are truly delicious Greek morsels that you must try! Dolmadakia truly are traditional, and are one of my favourite ever recipes.
Somewhat frustratingly, they’re the kind of dish that disappears even before they’ve hit the table! My youngest daughter sneaks in to steal a couple every five minutes in that danger period, when they are made but it’s not lunch time yet… but how can I blame her, when I did exactly the same at her age!
It took me a while to learn how to make them. Needs must, though, as I couldn’t find any when I lived in the Netherlands, so decided to give them a try. I discovered that all you need is a little patience; they’re not difficult or complicated to make. The taste of the vine leaf, combined with the vegetables and rice inside, a squirt of sharp lemon juice and a dip of yoghurt? Incredible.
Add the vine leaves in a pot with boiling water and simmer them for 2-3 minutes. Drain them using a strainer, remove any stems they may have with a knife and set aside. Same process applies to both fresh or canned vine leaves.
Filling: In a medium pot add the olive oil, onions and spring onions, and sauté them in a medium heat for about 8 minutes until they caramelise.
Continue by adding the grated zucchini, parsley, dill, grated tomato, lemon juice, rice, salt, pepper and warm water. Stir them and let them simmer for 5 minutes. Once done, set aside for 10 minutes to allow the rice to soak any remaining water.
Prepare a large pot by adding a layer of vine leaves (you can use any broken ones) and a few slices of lemon at the bottom.
Assembly: Place a vine leaf in a flat surface with its shiny side downwards and the nerves facing upwards.
Add a tablespoon of filling in the centre of the leave. For smaller leaves, reduce the amount of filling to avoid filling excess when wrapping.
Place each ‘dolmadaki’ at the bottom of the pot with the folded end facing down, and create a circular row. Make sure to arrange them tightly so they don’t open while cooking. Depending on the pot size, you may have to stack multiple layers.
Dolmadakia are best served with yoghurt on the side and plenty of extra lemon juice on them.
If you end up with surplus filling, you can fill a tomato or bell pepper with it and place it in the middle of pot.
If you prefer the filling to end up with a more al dente texture, avoid the warm water from step 3.