Dolma, or stuffed grape leaves, is easier to make at home than it would seem and the ingredients are super accessible. Grape leaves are common in many mainstream grocery stores these days and can also be found at ethnic grocery stores. This is a basic recipe, but feel free to alter it according to your tastes. Add currants for a bit of sweetness, adjust the spices, or replace the white rice for a whole-grain version.
- For stuffing:
- 1 1/2 cups long-grain rice
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup tomato paste
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 teaspoons allspice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- For leaves:
- Grape leaves (raw or pre-prepared)
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Tomato sauce, for dipping (optional)
- Greek yogurt, for dipping (optional)
- Red pepper flakes, for garnish (optional)
- Mix all stuffing ingredients in a bowl until thoroughly combined.
- If you are using raw grape leaves, bring some salted water to a boil. Add grape leaves and boil for about 15 minutes to soften. Carefully remove and place in a cold-water bath, leaving them to soak until ready to use them. If you are using prepared grape leaves, you’re all ready to go.
- Lay each grape leaf flat on your work surface. Place about 1 tablespoon stuffing in middle of leaf. Spread mix into an even-sized log along bottom (stem end) of leaf, leaving about 1/4 inch space on all sides. (Note: If leaf stem still has a little hard stem sticking from it, remove it.)
- Fold over mixture from stem end and tuck in sides toward center. Keep folding until you have a complete roll. Repeat the process until mixture and/or leaves are all used up.
- Layer rolled grape leaves in a pot, making sure to lay them close to each other. Pour 2 cups water on top, drizzle evenly with olive oil, and cover.
- Bring water to a boil, then reduce to simmer for about 1 hour to 90 minutes or until rice has cooked. Check every 20 to 30 minutes; whenever you see water has been absorbed, add about 1 cup more.
- When dolmas are ready, remove one by one (they're delicate when hot). Serve cooled or chilled with tomato sauce, Greek yogurt, and/or red pepper flakes, as desired.