DOLMADES: VEGETARIAN STUFFED GRAPE LEAVES
- 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.
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