Dolmas (stuffed grape leaves)

Looking for something different to bring to dinners and parties this holiday season? Try these dolmas which are grape leaves stuffed with rice and spices. This recipe makes a lot (you could probably 1/2 it), but they usually go fast, so that’s probably a good thing!


  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 4 large cloves garlic, chopped fine
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 3 cups basmati rice
  • Salt
  • 1 generous cup each (chopped): parsley, scallion, cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons dry dillweed
  • 4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons allspice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (more to taste)
  • 1 large jar grape leaves, rinsed
  • 1 head iceberg or romaine lettuce (for lining pot)


In a large skillet fry onions and garlic in olive oil until onions are translucent and tender. Add tomato paste and fry until well incorporated. Boil basmati rice in a large pot of salted water until about half done. Drain in colander and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Put rice in a large bowl. Add onion mixture, herbs and spices, pine nuts, and lemon juice to taste. Mix well and adjust seasoning.

Snip the stem ends off the grape leaves and place smooth side down on a clean work surface. With your hands, shape about 2 tablespoons of the filling into a cylinder and place near the stem end of a leaf. Fold the sides of each leaf over the filling, and then roll into a cylinder. The rice expands as it cooks so do not roll too tightly. Repeat with the remaining grape leaves and filling.

Break open the head of iceberg or romaine lettuce. Cover bottom of wide, heavy pot with a thick layer of lettuce. This provides insulation for the dolma as they steam. Arrange the dolma seam side down and close together in the lettuce-lined pot. You can stack them two deep but not more than that. Use a second pot if you have to. Cover with remaining lettuce.

  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • Lemon juice to taste

Mix together until sugar dissolves. This should be thin and sweet-sour like lemonade – about 3 cups total. Pour this mixture over the dolma in the pan(s). Add hot water to just cover, if necessary. Carefully weight with plates to keep them from floating and unrolling. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until tender, 45-60 minutes. The pot should be almost dry at this point. Uncover the dolmas so that they can cool quickly.  As soon as they can be handled, remove the dolmas with a spatula and arrange on platters. These can be served warm or cold. The recipe makes a lot but it is worth it!

Serve with a simple Yogurt-Lemon Sauce, if you like:
  • 1 1/2 cups plain soy or almond yogurt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Stir together, taste for salt, and serve cool or room temperature with dolma.

Serves: Makes about 60 dolmas

via: The Merc

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