To help celebrate the Summer Olympics, I thought I would post my favorite Greek recipe. My kids are crazy about this recipe, and I'm sure I'll be giving some of these to my married daughter to take on her camping trip this weekend.
So give them a try, they are actually not very hard to make. And if I can't screw them up they are sure to be a hit in your house, too.
50 large grapevine leaves
1 pound ground chicken or pork
3 tablespoons fresh chopped mint
3 green onions chopped
1 tablespoon fresh chopped dill
1/2 medium onion finely chopped
1 cup sushi rice, raw
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 L of chicken broth
1 tablespoon lemon juice
If you're using the jar of grapevine leaves, all you need to do is rinse the leaves and pat them dry. If you using fresh grapevine leaves, make sure that they are pesticide free and picked in the morning. Blanch the leaves by plunging them into boiling water for about 1 min, then draining them and laying them on a cookie sheet.
Mix the meat, herbs, salt, pepper and onion thoroughly and then mix in the rice.
Fold a leaf in half lengthwise, at the stem end, and with a pair of scissors, trim off the stem and a small portion of the radiating veins. Lay the leaf topside down, and drop about 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon of the meat mixture into the center of the leaf. Fold the sides in, and then roll the leaf up. You'll have a nice round little package. Set the dolmade down so it won't unravel. Continue this was all your grapevine leaves.
Any ripped grapevine leaves or those that appear to be fragile may be used to cover the top of the dolmades. Grease a fireproof dish and lay out all the dolmades, then cover them with any unused or torn leaves. Use a fireproof plate, casserole dish, or something of similar shape but slightly smaller over top of your dolmades, to help weigh them down. They must not be boiled but simmered gently, so that they do not unravel.
Gently pour in the chicken broth and lemon juice to cover the dolmades, and simmer in the oven set at 350° for about one hour. After that time, check the center dolmade to see if it is cooked through, and the rice is not hard.
You can eat these right away, but they improve with sitting in the refrigerator for a day. They may be eaten cold or warmed up.
This is what they looked like when I took them out of the oven. For the round dish, I had used a smaller lid to keep the dolmades secure, and for the rectangular dish I had used a glass loaf pan. Enjoy and be as adventurous as the Ancient Greeks who first ate them!