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I love the traditional lamb stuffed grape leaves, so I was thrilled to find that my local market had started stocking prepared grape leaves in jars. But, ground lamb is still hard to come by, and expensive. I don't like to eat meat too often anyway, so I thought a vegetarian option was in order. It's also good with goat cheese, if you prefer.
- 50 -60 prepared grape leaves
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1⁄2 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 cup rice
- 1 lemon, juice of, divided
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 1 -2 teaspoon salt
- 1⁄2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- 1⁄4-1⁄2 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 1⁄3 cup olive oil
- Saute onion in olive oil, just until translucent. Add rice and cook until rice is fragrant, and lightly toasted. Add half of the lemon juice and 1/2 cup water, and cook until water is absorbed. You want the rice only partially cooked at this stage.
- Remove from heat and cool slightly. Add herbs, salt and pepper, and feta. Use the smaller amount at first, and taste. If you like yours really cheesy, add more.
- Stuff the leaves. Lay one leaf out flat, with the shiny side down, and place about a teaspoon of filling near the stem. Roll over once, fold the sides in, and roll the rest of the way. Keep the roll slightly loose, as the filling will expand slightly during cooking. If some of your leaves are small, you can overlap two of them and roll the same way.
- Use any torn or broken leaves to line the bottom of a large saucepan or skillet, or place a wide, flat vegetable steamer in the pan. You want to keep your finished rolls from touching the bottom, so they won't burn.
- Place rolls seam side down on top of broken leaves or steamer, and add water to cover, along with the rest of the lemon juice. You may want to place the lid from a smaller pan, or a plate on top of the rolls to keep them from moving around too much. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until rice is tender.
- Serve warm, with yogurt or tzatziki sauce.
I was disappointed with these. They were pretty bland and I felt had too much liquid used to cook them which made the bottom layer of dolmas soggy. I used unrefined extra virgin olive oil, white Basmati rice, freshly squeezed lemon juice, no dill out of preference, very fresh mint, fresh flat leaf parsley, sea salt, to taste, freshly ground black pepper to taste, & Greek goats milk feta cheese. There was no where it called for the second amount of olive oil so I didn't notice it and left it out! I think that would have helped the outcome if it was added to the cooking water/fresh lemon juice! I served it with Balkan yogurt that was thinned with freshly squeezed lemon juice.
I Really like this recipe. I've always made stuffed grape leave with rice, tomato sauce, fresh parsley and lean ground beef or lamb. Feta cheese is one of my favorite foods : - ) and I don't eat meat now. THANK YOU SO MUCH for sharing this new twist on and old favorite.