Now that the overwhelming sweetness of Valentine’s Day is officially behind us, it’s time to move on to savory treats. While these delicate, delectable dolmas may take slightly more effort than your basic candy heart, they’re guaranteed not only to satisfy in the taste department, but also to impress anyone you’ve recently wooed. Jarred grape leaves can be found in major grocery stores these days, which makes whipping up a batch of these awesome finger-food goodies just that much easier. Cinnamon and dill, which might sound like strange bedfellows at first, pair perfectly here with the tart grape leaves and warm, aromatic rice.
If sitting on a sandy beach by the glittery Mediterranean Sea sounds good right about now—especially for those readers who happen to be inundated with inclement weather on the East Coast—then transport yourself, at least temporarily, with a full-on Greek feast and a little creative imagery. Turn on the Travel Channel (with the sound off, of course) to see some stunning shorelines, and bust out your fanciest hummus, baba ganouj, and pita bread. If you want to get really fancy and authentic, try out a super-garlicky skordalia (for which you can find a fantastic recipe by our very own Terry Hope Romero in the TreeFree Edition of VegNews!). Once you’ve assembled all the Greek goodies you could ever want to eat, turn up your heater, lay out a beach towel in your living room, and think happy beach thoughts! Yes, togas are optional.
Makes 20 to 24
What you need:
- 1 16-ounce jar grape leaves
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 medium yellow onion, minced
- 3/4 cup basmati rice, uncooked
- 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
- 3 tablespoons fresh dill, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1-1/4 cup vegetable stock, divided
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
What you do:
- Remove grape leaves from the jar and rinse under running water to remove the brine. Pat the leaves dry and trim off the stems. Set aside.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, add1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add onion, cover, and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in rice, pine nuts, dill, cinnamon, salt, and pepper to taste, and 1 cup of stock. Cover and simmer until the liquid is evaporated, stirring occasionally. Transfer filling to a bowl and cool completely.
- Place a grape leaf on a work surface, shiny side down, with the stem end toward you. Place a tablespoon of the cooled filling near the stem end and fold in the sides of the leaf over the filling. Roll up the leaf away from you, firmly but not too tightly. Repeat the process using the remaining leaves and filling. Transfer to a large skillet.
- Pour the remaining stock, oil, and lemon juice over the stuffed grape leaves, adding additional water to just barely cover them with liquid. Bring to a simmer and cook, covered, until tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat, uncover, and let cool. Drain any remaining liquid and transfer to a serving plate. Serve at room temperature.
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