Stuffed Vine Leaves, aka Dolmades

The vine from which I picked the leavesThe vine in my yard from which I picked the leaves

A traditional Greek dish called Dolmades, often served cold as mezze. Delicious hot with an egg and lemon sauce. When I made it from young vine leaves picked from several vines in our garden, I used young fresh leaves from unsprayed vines. If you leave it too late into early summer the leaves become woody.

Washing the vine leavesWashing the vine leaves in salted water

Pick about 35 vine leaves for this recipe and trim the stalks right onto the leaf. Soak for a while in heavily salted water to get rid of any bugs. Check for eggs on the back of the leaves and remove them.

Vine leaves before boilingRolled up & ready for boiling

Roll the leaves up like a cigar in bundles of about 6 leaves and tie with a piece of string. Simmer for 5 minutes in boiling salted water. Lift out with a pair of tongs, turn them on end and allow to drain. Set a side to cool.

You will need…
35 fresh young vine leaves about the size of a hand
Willow Creek Jalapeno Flavoured Oil
250g cleaned Chicken Livers – cut into about three pieces per liver
Oryx Desert Salt and freshly milled black pepper
100g pistachio nuts roughly chopped
grated rind of 1 lemon
10g chopped parsley
10 mint leaves finely sliced
100ml Willow Creek Extra Virgin Olive Oil
15ml Willow Creek Lemon Flavoured Extra Virgin Olive Oil
15ml Willow Creek Garlic Flavoured Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 large onion finely chopped
3 cloves garlic finely chopped
200g long grain parboiled rice
375ml chicken stock
2 lemons, juiced

Egg & Lemon Sauce
4 whole eggs
125ml lemon juice
1 tsp cornflour
330ml hot chicken stock
Oryx desert salt and freshly milled black pepper

What you’ll do…
In a wok, flood the base with a thin layer of the jalapeno oil, and when hot, quickly stir fry the chicken livers to brown on the outside but leave pink on the inside. Remove the chicken livers, season well, add the pistachio nuts, lemon, parsley and mint and set aside.

Rice stuffingRice & Chicken Liver Stuffing

Wipe out with a piece of kitchen paper and add the three remaining oils and heat thoroughly. When hot, add the onion, stir fry until starting to colour, add the garlic and continue frying for a minute or so. Be careful not to burn the garlic. Add the rice and fry for a short while so that the rice changes colour and absorbs some oil.   Add the chicken stock, the lemon juice and the chicken liver mixture. Bring to the boil, lower the heat, cover with a lid and cook gently until the rice is almost cooked and still has a little ‘bite’. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Preset the oven to 180C. Splash a little olive oil into a baking dish and line with leaves, shiny side up.

Dividing out the stuffingDividing out the stuffing

Lay out 24 vine leaves on a table, shiny side down. Divide the rice mixture among them. Roll up from the stem side, tucking in the sides giving you a nice little parcel. Pack them neatly into the dish, top with more open vine leaves. Cover with baking paper and bake at 180C for 30 minutes.

zzz WillowCreek Olive OilsWillow Creek Flavoured Extra Virgin Olive Oils

While the vine leaves are baking, make the sauce. Beat the eggs, add the lemon juice and cornflour. Whisk well, pour in the hot stock whisking all the while. Over very low heat cook the sauce until it thickens and the cornflour tastes cook. Season well and keep warm until you are ready to serve. If you are confident that you can make the sauce without curdling, leave out the cornflour.

Packed in a rowPacked in a row

Serve warm with the egg and lemon sauce.

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