When I search for a recipe online, it drives me nuts when it’s hidden among paragraphs of narrative. With that in mind, I’ll keep this intro short. I’m often asked for my stuffed grape leaves recipe or, as my family calls them in Greek, dolmades. I find them easy to make and they are gluten, dairy and egg free. Over the years, I’ve made a few adjustments to the original recipe to make life easier and a little healthier. Traditionally served with an egg lemon sauce, avgolemno, I’ve eliminated that in favor of lots of fresh lemon juice.
Stuffed Grape Leaves Recipe
- 1 jar grape leaves (I use Peloponnese). Blanch to tenderize and reduce bitterness.
- 1lb ground beef, lamb, turkey or any combination of the three (I use turkey for “light days.”)
- 1/2 cup white or brown rice, uncooked
- 1 large onion, chopped (yellow, red or whatever you have in)
- ½ cup fresh parsley plus ½ cup fresh mint, chopped (original recipe called for less, but I like more.)
- 2 tsp salt
- Pepper to taste
- Lemon pepper seasoning to taste (I’ve added this and like the extra punch it offers)
- 2-3 fresh lemons (I like lots of lemon)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees (original recipe cooks the stuffed leaves on the stovetop using plates to prevent the leaves from floating– I prefer oven baking). Gently remove grape leaves from jar. They are tightly packed, but take care not to tear them. Boil for 5-10 minutes, then rinse under cold water. Set aside until ready to stuff.
In a bowl, mix the ground meat, onion, rice and chopped mint/parsley mixture. Add salt and pepper.
Lay out grape leaves and be sure to cut off stems. Add about 1-2 teaspoon of the meat mixture to each. Do not over stuff or the leaves will break. Use any broken leaves to patch tears. Like a burrito, fold up from the bottom then in from each side and roll tightly. Place rolled leaves in 9 x 13 baking dish or roasting pan, as shown, for a double batch.
Add water to about half to three quarters the height of the grape leaves. Salt the water and add the juice of 1-2 lemons. Leave the rinds in the pan to infuse even more lemon flavor. Cover with foil.
Bake for 30-40 minutes.
When done, drain water and immediately drizzle with olive oil and more lemon juice. The hot grape leaves will absorb the added lemon. Add salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle with lemon pepper seasoning. Serve hot or cold – yummy either way. If you’re not devouring these immediately, I like to add more oil, lemon juice and seasoning again just before serving.
I hope you enjoy this stuffed grape leaves recipe!