Wednesday, June 20, 2018

EarthShaper Arts: Dolmas: Grape Leaf Wraps

While Waiting for the Grapes Recipe (Dolmas)
BY:  Earthshaper Arts
        When growing our own grapes there was a harsh reality this little tree-hugger had to come to terms with; healthy grapes means less leaves. Bringing myself to pull off all the enormous, sprawling leaves and whimsically reaching, but fruitless, vines took a leap of faith. I couldn’t believe this much waste could have even been a practice of the ancients, till I remembered an authentic Greek restaurant called the Greek Islands that we once went to in Indy back before we had our own kids. They had a belly dancer and everything! The dish I ordered was Dolmas, which looked like a Greek style lettuce wrap, off the menu. So I put my Chef Hubby to work making Dolmas with our grape leaves for the family. The results were even better than I remembered, as food from our own garden always seems to be. (Am I wrong? ha)


Turns out you can even purchase preserved grape leaves if you don't have grape vines of your own. This may be a new skill to learn on down the road.

Ingredients:
Wraps:
12- 4 to 5 inch wide grape leaves
4  cups water
1 cup salt
Rice:
1 cup white rice
1 ¾  cup water
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp butter
½ cup golden raisins
Meat:
1 lb ground beef or lamb
1 tsp cinnamon
½ cup diced onions
2 thinly sliced garlic cloves
½ tsp red pepper flakes
¼ cup chopped fresh dill weed
Garnish:
Finely crumbled feta cheese
Black pepper
Olives
Pepperoncini
Approximate time: 35 minutes
Directions:

Pick grape leaves with no insect damage, no chemical spray, 4-5 inches wide in late Spring, sometime in May or June. Avoid fuzzy thick leaves. Wash in cold water and drain thoroughly.

Blanch the leaves in a brine of 4 cups water with 1 cup salt. Bring brine to boil. Drop leaves 12 at a time into boiling brine. Bring brine back to boil and remove leaves immediately and immerse in ice cold water. This will set the color in the leaf better. Dry off leaves and store in olive oil.

Make stuffing mixture. Start 1 cup of rice, 1 ¾ cup water, 1 tsp salt, and 2 Tbs butter cooking in rice cooker. Meanwhile cover ½ cup golden raisins in hot water and soak. Brown 1 lb ground beef or ground lamb seasoned with salt and pepper and 1 tsp cinnamon, ½ cup diced onions, 2 thinly sliced garlic cloves, and ½ tsp red pepper flakes. Drain ground meat and set aside. When rice is cooked add meat mixture, ¼ cup chopped fresh dill weed and raisins with juice in rice. Mix well.

Lay out grape leaf and put 1/3 to ½ cup rice mixture and finely crumbled feta cheese in center of leaf. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Wrap up like an eggroll or burrito. Put on plate and garnish with a salad of mixed olives, med size crumble feta cheese, slices of pepperoncini peppers, diced tomato, diced cucumber, diced red onion with a dressing of salt, pepper, olive oil, ½ tsp chopped dill weed and red wine vinegar or lemon juice.

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