8 ounces grape leaves from a jar, rinsed, drained, and stems removed
1/2 cup long grain rice
3/4 cup olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 cup water
2 lemons, juiced (1/2 cup or more)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoon chopped mint
1 teaspoon dried dill
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Sauté onions with 1/3 of the olive oil over medium low heat about 15-20 minutes or until very soft and lightly golden. Do not brown the onions.
Add rice and mix to combine.
Pour 1 cup water, half of the lemon juice, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 6-7 minutes or until the rice absorbs all of the liquid. At this point the rice is only par boiled.
Add all the herbs and mix well. Cool completely.
Rinse and dry the grape leaves. Cut the hard stem from each leaf. Reserve the smallest and the torn leaves to lay on bottom of pot.
Lay a grape leaf shiny side down and place a tablespoon of rice filling on the bottom end of the leaf, near the stem.
Fold the stem end of leaf over the filling. Fold the sides over and roll up snugly but not too tight. The rice will expand a bit more while cooking.
Repeat with all of the remaining grape leaves until your filling is done.
Layer half of the small and torn grape leaves to create a bed for the dolmades in a pot.
Place the dolmades seam side down and very close together over the bed of leaves. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
Pour the remaining olive oil and lemon juice over the dolmades.
Place the remaining reserved small leaves over the dolmades.
Pour enough water to just cover the dolmades.
Place an inverted plate over the dolmades to weigh them down and to prevent them from moving around and opening while cooking.
Cover with lid and bring to a boil.
Reduce to simmer and cook for 35-40 minutes.
There will still be some liquid in the pot. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes and the juices will be absorbed.
Plate and drizzle some olive oil over them. Serve with delicious tzatziki sauce.