Spring and early summer on the farm – a crazy abundance of vine leaves, and beautiful big ones too! This recipe details how to process your vine leaves from scratch, if you are lucky enough to have access to them.
You can use bought vine leaves, and the results will be similar, but if you really want your dolmades to sing, use them as fresh as possible.
If you happen to have driven past a vineyard, stolen a ton of leaves, and want to make a big batch of vine leaves for future use, once prepared the leaves can be frozen or brined and jarred for future use.
- A pot with a drop lid or a plate the fits inside.
- Freshly picked vine leaves, as many as you want
- 1 cup brown lentils precooked for 10 minutes in the microwave
- 1-2 onions, finely chopped
- 2 lemons
- 2 tbsp dill, chopped
- 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
- olive oil, salt and pepper
- cabbage or lettuce leaves
- With a sharp scissor remove the stalk from the vine leaves as close as possible to the leaf.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil, and prepare a bowl of cold water on the side.Slide around 5-6 vine leaves into the water at a time and blanch for about a minute, until they change colour to a greeny brown and go limp. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon and refresh in the cold water, then set aside to drain. Repeat with all the leaves.
- Fry the onions in a little olive oil until turning golden brown, then add the lentils, saute for another minute and then add enough water to just cover, put the lid on and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the water has evaporated. Once the lentils are dry, stir through the herbs, the juice of one lemon, a tsp of salt, some pepper and set aside.
- Now for the rolling – if using bought vine leaves, start at this step. Line the pot for which you have a drop lid or plate the fits inside with cabbage or lettuce leaves. Place a leaf shiny side down with the point facing away from you, on a flat surface, and put about a tablespoon of lentil stuffing in the bottom of the leaf, where you cut off the stalk earlier. Fold the 2 bottom lobes over the stuffing and keep them in place with your fingers while you fold the side lobes in toward the center. Keep the whole lot in place with your fingers and roll up toward the point. Get it nice and tight if you can.
- Pack the dolmades snugly into the lined pot with the folded side down. Squeeze the other lemon's worth of juice over, season with salt and black pepper, and optionally drizzle with a little olive oil. Make as many layers as you need, but try get them fitting tightly.
- Place the drop-lid or inverted plate on top to keep them down, then top up with just enough water to cover the dolmades. Simmer with the lid on for 30-40 mins, until the water has evaporated and there's just a little olive oil left at the bottom.Remove from the pot and let cool for 30 minutes before serving.