These grape leaves are stuffed with rice, meat, and herbs and then baked in a light tomato sauce. This dish is light, aromatic, and very delicious. Traditionally, it is made vegetarian with just rice and herbs and commonly served in Northern Greece. Perfect for a family dinner and elegant enough for a party.
Watch the Video Tutorial Here
Dolmadakia (the Greek word for stuffed grape leaves) are delicious. They can be stuffed with a meat and rice filling or easily made vegan. Just substitute the meat for extra rice and lots of herbs and they will be so tasty. Follow this recipe right here for the vegan filling. Add some pine nuts, walnuts, or even lentils for a heartier filling. And, if you like a hint of sweetness, some dried sweetened cranberries will be great!
Where can I buy grape leaves?
If you’re lucky enough to have a grapevine in your garden then, you can use fresh grape leaves. Just boil them in some salted water until tender, drain, and fill. However, most of us do not have grapes growing in our backyards so, the next best thing is to buy them from the market. They’re sold in jars in the Mediterranean section of the supermarket. Middle Eastern/Mediterranean food stores carry them as well. They are sold in a jar as I said before, in brine. Make sure to drain the brine and run them under cold water to get rid of the excess brine from them. Then, they will be ready to use.
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Make the filling:
The filling is so easy to make. It begins with finely chopped onions and olive oil. Cook them over medium heat until soft. That usually takes 6-7 minutes.
Then, add some sliced scallions and cook until soft. About 2-3 minutes.
Add the ground meat if using. I usually use lean ground beef. Ground lamb, turkey, or chicken will also work. Cook the meat over medium heat until the pinkness disappears.
Season with salt and pepper and squeeze some lemon juice on top.
Add the rice and pureed tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 6-7 minutes. The rice will not be fully cooked. It will continue to cook in the oven, so don’t worry.
Remove from the heat and add all of the chopped herbs. Mix it up and taste. Add some more salt and pepper if desired. That’s it! The filling is ready. Now it’s time to stuff them and roll them up.
See the video for the easy method.
Can this be turned into a pie?
While I was making the dolmadakia, I thought to myself that it would be so much easier to line a baking pan or even a pie pan with grape leaves and then dump all of the stuffing on top and cover with some more grape leaves. How easy would that be? All of that delicious flavor would still be there and it would be a fraction of the work. I will test it out and if it works (I don’t see why it would not…) then, I will share the recipe. If you give it a try, comment below.
Once they are filled and rolled then, place them in a 9 by 13-inch baking dish and they’re ready for the sauce.
Make the Sauce:
The sauce for these could not be easier. Just add a can of tomatoes to a blender along with some salt, pepper, oregano, a pinch of sugar, and some olive oil. Blend it until it is smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed. Tomatoes can be acidic and the sugar helps balance out the flavors. Season to your liking and then pour the sauce over the grape leaves.
Cover the tray with foil and bake it in a 400 °F oven for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 20 minutes.
Serve with Greek yogyrt or tzatziki sauce. Kali Orexi!
Roasting the dolmadakia in the oven adds such great flavor. The tomato sauce gets nice and thick and adds a hint of richness. Perfect for a family dinner and very nice as a side for your dinner party.
Can the stuffed grape leaves be made ahead?
Yes! These keep well in the refrigerator up to a week. If you’re making them for a party they can be made a day ahead and stored in the refrigerator then, warmed through in the oven right before serving. Perfect for meal prep, too!
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- 16 ounces grape leaves from the jar, rinsed, drained and stems removed
- For the filling:
- • ½ cup Basmati rice
- • ¼ cup olive oil
- • 1 onion, finely chopped
- • 5-6 scallions thinly sliced
- • 1-pound ground lean beef
- • 1 cup of water
- • 6 ounces pureed tomatoes
- • 2-3 tablespoons lemon juice
- • Salt and black pepper, to taste
- • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
- • 1 tablespoon finely chopped mint
- For the Tomato Sauce:
- • 15 ounces canned tomatoes, pureed
- • ¼ cup olive oil
- • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- • ¼ teaspoon of granulated sugar or to taste
- • Salt and pepper to taste
- Serve with Greek yogurt or tzatziki
- Preheat the oven to 400 °F, 200 °C.
- Cook the onion with the olive oil over medium heat until soft. About 6-8 minutes.
- Add the scallions and cook until soft. About 3 minutes.
- Add the ground beef and cook over medium heat until no longer pink. About 5 minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the tomato puree, rice, water and lemon juice. Season with a quarter teaspoon more salt. Add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 6-7 minutes.
- Remove from heat and add the herbs. Mix well and taste. Adjust seasoning if needed.
- Assemble the Grape Leaves:
- Lay the grape leaves shine side down and place a teaspoon full of the filling in the center of the leaf towards the bottom. Fold the sides of the leaf over the filling and roll it up.
- Place the stuffed grape leaves seam side down into a 9 by 13-inch baking pan.
- Make the tomato Sauce:
- Combine all of the ingredients (except for the oregano) in a blender and puree until smooth. Add oregano and mix together. Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Pour the sauce over the grape leaves.
- Cover the pan with foil and bake for 20 minutes.
- Remove the foil and bake uncovered for an additional 20 minutes.
- Allow the grape leaves to cool down for 10 minutes then serve with Greek yogurt or tzatziki. Enjoy!
The stuffed grape leaves will keep fresh stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to a week.