Here is a little goody from my first book that is much easier to make than you might think. Unfortunately, these are often served dripping with oil in many restaurants, which I find to be rather unnecessary. Alternatively, this version is flavorful, light, and nutritious. This makes quite a few dolmadas, but they are so easy to nibble on as leftovers that you may end up wishing you had made more!
¼ cup each: fresh lemon juice and finely minced onion
2 teaspoons dried dill
½ teaspoon sea salt (or to taste)*
56 grape leaves (these can be found preserved in a jar in most supermarkets)
Place the rice and water in a covered pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the rice is tender and all of the water is absorbed. Don’t lift the lid or stir the rice while it is cooking. When the rice is done, set it aside and allow it to cool slightly.
Add the oil, chickpeas, parsley, tomatoes, lemon juice, onion, and dill to the rice and stir until well combined. Add the sea salt and mix well. *Since the salt content in grape leaves will vary, it is best to make the rice mixture less salty than you’d normally prefer. The grape leaves will add a fair bit of salty flavor to the dolmadas, so it is crucial not to over-salt the rice. At this point, you can proceed to step 3, or allow the rice mixture to marinate for up to 6 hours.
Place a vegetable steamer insert into a large pot that has a tight fitting lid. Add a little water to the pot, being careful not to bring the water level above the bottom of the insert. Set aside.
Gently remove a cluster of leaves from the jar. Don’t be intimidated, you can do this!
Place one grape leaf on the counter, smoothest side down, with the stem base closest to you. Place one tablespoon of the filling in the center of the leaf. Fold the bottom of the grape leaf up and over the filling. Next, fold the sides in. Finally, roll up from the bottom to form a nice little package. Place your cigar-shaped dolmada inside the vegetable steamer.
Do this 55 more times.
Cover the pan with the lid and allow your dolmadas to steam over medium heat for about 20 minutes, or until the grape leaves become tender. You may want to check midway through to make sure you still have enough steaming water—it’s crucial your pan doesn’t become dry.
Congratulations! Enjoy your little newborn creations.
Makes 56 Dolmadas (serves about 10-15 people as a starter)
GF/SF/Green (according to the recipe guidelines in my books)