Mmmmmmmm, dolma's (or stuffed grape leaves). My dad just recently went to Greece and every time we skyped he would make me drool describing all the yummy food he was eating. To satisfy my craving I decided that it was time to pull out an old favorite recipe--dolmathes (in greek) or dolmas. I've been rolling dolma's since I was a babe, my fingers actually have muscle memory after all these years. We used to always make them on special occasions, the entire family sitting down to partake in the tradition. There was never a feast without these "green turds" as I used to call them when I was little.
They really aren't that hard to make, they just take a while to roll, especially if there is only one of you, so if you can, prepare the stuffing, sit down with a friend and partake in the joy of creating delicious, healthy food for you and your family.
Another tribute to my mom, . . .
Yalangi Dolmathes (stuffed grape leaves)
Good as a main course or appetizer. Make lots because you won't be able to eat just one!
1 16 oz jar of grape leaves, washed and set aside. Or about 50-60 fresh grape leaves
6 bunches of scallions, cleaned, roots removed and white parts chopped finely
3 zucchini, grated
Juice of one large lemon
1 head of red or green loose leaf lettuce, chopped in small pieces
2 cups of rice (white, long grain)
1 cup of olive oil
2-3 cubes of chicken bouillon, dissolved in a little water
About 8 oz (or to taste)feta cheese, (a tangy variety like Bulgarian or Greek), grated
1/2 bunch of fresh dill, chopped
1 big handful of mint, chopped into tiny pieces
Salt to taste
Prepare the above ingredients. When ready, put the ingredients (with the exception of the grape leaves) in a large bowl. Mix together and taste and, if necessary, adjust the seasonings. Set the bowl of ingredients down on your working space. You will also need a dinner plate, a spoon and a small knife.
Select a heavy, deep cooking pot that can go on top of the stove and has a cover. Pour a bit of olive oil in the bottom and line the bottom of the pan with some of the coarsest grape leaves from the jar. If all the leaves seem tender, you may use lettuce. Place a grape leaf, inside up, in the center of the plate. The stem should be closest to you with the leaf pointing away from you. With the knife, cut away the stem and coarse vein. Overlap any cut parts.
Mix the stuffing together with the spoon (do this before making each dolma to make sure the juice doesn't accumulate on the bottom), and then fill the spoon with stuffing. Place the stuffing about 1/3 way up from the stem. Roll by first folding the end closest to you over the stuffing then folding the sides. Roll up until complete. Place in the pot seam side down. Pack dolmas side by side until you finish one layer. Repeat again for a second later. You will accumulate a lot of cuice as you roll the dolmas. This should be added to the pot. Place a small plate on top of the second row. Do not add more rows. Put more dolmas in another pot, if necessary.
Place the pot on high heat at first and when it starts to boil, turn down to medium heat. Cook for 20-30 minutes depending on the rice and the coarseness of the grape leaves. You can also add a little water if necessary. Taste for doneness. If the rice is cooked, take the pot off the heat. Open the top and let the dolmas cool on the top of the stove. Dolmas are better served at room temperature. They may be prepared up to 4 days in advance. Refrigerate if made in advance and allow dolmas to get to room temperature before serving. Enjoy!