Well I've got to say I am excited for Greek Fest this weekend, here are more traditional greek recipes, but a healthier version. My Greek stepfather's favorite was dolmades, (stuffed grape leaves) and I remember my mother in the kitchen making them, enjoy! ♥
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
- 1 ½ cups long grain white rice
- 1 medium onion, minced
- 1/2 cup fresh minced dill
- 1/4 cup fresh minced mint
- 6 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
- 1 tbsp lemon zest
- 1 3/4 cups vegetable broth (a yellow broth is best), divided
- 50 large grape leaves (fresh or jarred)
- Salt and pepper
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Fresh mint leaves, lemon slices, and olives (for garnish - optional) you may buy the jarred ones but fresh is the best tasting and more authentic!
You will also need
a medium pot, a sauté pan with high sides, a large pot, a plate
Pour the pine nuts into a skillet and lightly toast them over medium heat till golden brown. Reserve.
Pour ¼ cup of olive oil into a medium pot and heat it over medium. Add minced onion to the pot and sauté until soft. Add the rice to the pot and stir to combine. Sauté for another minute. Pour in ¾ cup vegetable broth and lower the heat; simmer the rice uncovered for about 10 minutes till the liquid is absorbed and the rice is half cooked. Do not cook the rice fully, or you’ll end up with mushy grape leaves! Just cook it to an al dente texture. Remove pot from heat.
Add the minced dill, mint, toasted pine nuts, 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice and lemon zest to the pot of rice. Stir till all ingredients are well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let the mixture cool to room temperature.
Fill a large pot with salted water and bring to a boil. As the water is heating, trim the leaves by cutting the stems off, flush with the leaves. Trim any large, hard veins from the leaves. Place the leaves in the boiling water and let them soften for 3-5 minutes till they become pliable (fresh leaves may take a bit longer to soften than jarred).
Drain, then cover the leaves with cold water. Drain the leaves again and pat them dry
Note: If using fresh leaves, try to use younger leaves (medium size)—they’ll be more tender than the very large leaves.
Place a grape leaf shiny (smooth) side down, vein (bumpy) side up, on a flat surface like a cutting board.
Place 2 tbsp of rice filling at the base end of the leaf, near where the stem was.
Fold the stem end up over the filling
Fold the edges of the leaf inward.
Continue rolling the leaf till it forms a neat rolled package. Do not roll too tightly; the rice will expand a little during cooking, and if you roll it too tight the leaf will unravel as it cooks.
Squeeze the roll gently to seal.
Repeat the process with the remaining leaves till all of the filling is gone.
As you roll the leaves, you may find some leaves that are damaged or have large holes. Place those damaged leaves into the bottom of your saute pan to line it and create a bed for the stuffed leaves.
Place the stuffed leaves in the bottom of the saute pan. Don’t be afraid to pack the leaves snugly; this will help keep the leaves intact as they cook. Make a single layer on the bottom of the pan. When you run out of room, make a second layer on top.
Pour 1 cup of broth, ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil, and ¼ cup of fresh lemon juice over the stuffed grape leaves. Heat the pan over medium until it begins to simmer (don’t boil, or the leaves will start to fall apart).
Turn heat to low, so the leaves are slowly simmering, and place an inverted heat-safe plate on top of the stuffed grape leaves to weigh them down and keep them secure as they cook.
Cover the pot. Let the grape leaves cook for 30-40 minutes. The leaves are finished cooking when they are fork-tender.enjoy! ♥