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Dolmades (Stuffed Grape Leaves)

Dolmades (Stuffed Grape Leaves)
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Yield: 150 dolmades

This recipe is big--it makes 150 dolmades--but you can easily halve or even quarter it without affecting the end result. You may also use this rice mixture to stuff tomatoes, peppers, cabbage leaves, or zucchini blossoms: Just top with a little oil and seasoned breadcrumbs for a crunchy crust; add water to the pan and bake, uncovered, until rice is cooked through.

Ingredients:

  • 150 fresh grape leaves
  • 2 cups Uncle Ben's Original Long-Grain White Rice
  • 1-1/2 cups olive oil
  • 2 onions, grated
  • 1 bunch scallions, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped, or 1 tablespoon dried mint
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 bunch Italian parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 cups fresh grated tomatoes (skins removed)
  • 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
  • Kosher or sea salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cups water
  • Greek yogurt

Instructions:

Remove stems from grape leaves and wash. In batches of about 30, blanch in a pot of boiling water 2 minutes. Remove and place in an ice bath to shock and stop cooking. (If using canned grape leaves, skip this step.)

Mix rice, oil, onions, scallions, herbs, grated tomatoes, and tomato sauce in a large bowl. Add salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste (the more lemony the better!). Add water, and let mixture stand about 1 hour to let rice absorb some water.

To assemble dolmades: Place one grape leaf on a plate, smooth side down. Add 1 teaspoon rice mixture at the top of the grape leaf (where the stem was). Fold in both sides to the center of the leaf. Then, beginning at the top of the grape leaf, roll loosely until entire grape leaf is rolled up. Place seam side down in a baking pan.

Repeat with additional grape leaves to fill one layer in baking pan. Begin the second layer by arranging dolmades in the opposite direction (makes it easier to serve them after they're cooked). Finish filling, rolling, and placing remaining grape leaves.

Preheat your oven to 400°. Add enough water to baking pan to almost cover leaves. Cover pan with 2 layers of aluminum foil. Bake at 400° 30 minutes; then reduce heat to 350° and bake about 30 minutes longer. Remove one stuffed leaf and taste to check for doneness. If rice is cooked, remove from the oven. Let dolmades sit, covered, at least 30 minutes before serving. Serve with Greek yogurt.
Updated Wednesday, August 17th, 2011
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