The use of grape leaves to wrap food dates back to the days of Alexander the
Great. Stuffed with rice, pine nuts, and fresh herbs, dolmathakia (dol-mah-THAH-kya) take a little bit of time to prepare, but they are worth the effort.
They can be served cold or at room temperature and are a classic Greek appetizer or meze.
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Yield: About 50 pieces
- 50-60 fresh grape leaves or 1 jar (16 oz.) brined grape leaves
- 1-cup olive oil (divided into 1/2 cups)
- 6 large onions, minced
- 1 1/2 cups uncooked long grain rice
- 1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh dill, chopped
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
- 2 tbsp. dried mint
- 1 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- Juice of two lemons
Note: Brined grape leaves are packed by weight so the quantity will vary from jar to jar.
Rinse the leaves well to remove brine. Place the leaves in boiling water and boil for 3 to 5 minutes to soften them and make them more pliable. Remove from water and set aside.
In a large skillet, over medium high heat, heat 1/2 cup olive oil. Sauté the onions until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the rice, parsley, dill, pine nuts, mint, salt and pepper. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice. Allow the filling to cool.
Line the bottom of a heavy saucepan with 2 or three grape leaves (I use the broken or torn ones for this.)
Roll the Dolmathakia:
Place a leaf with the stem towards you on a flat surface. The underside of the leaf should be face up. (The veins of the leaf are raised on the underside.) Using the point of a sharp paring knife cut out the stem of the leaf. Overlap the bottom two sections of the leaf toward the center.
Place a tablespoon of filling in the bottom center of the leaf, just above the stem. Fold the bottom section up to cover the filling. Fold the sides in towards the center.
Continue rolling the packet up towards the top point of the leaf.
Place the rolls in layers in the saucepan. Be sure to place the packets with the seam on the bottom.
Pour remaining 1/2 cup olive oil over the dolmathakia and enough water to cover them by about an inch. Place an inverted heatproof plate on top of the rolls to keep them submerged in the water. Cover the saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer over low heat for 45 minutes to an hour or until the leaves are tender and the rice filling is cooked through.