Dolmades are the perfect party food and can be prepped well ahead. These stuffed vine leaves are a traditional Greek recipe made with deliciously soft rice, loads of fresh herbs and dried fruit for a beautiful balance of sweet and savoury. We’ve made ours vegetarian but you can change the filling depending on what you fancy. Fried off minced lamb mixed through the rice and finished with the fragrant herbs is also absolutely delicious in dolmades. We like to pop these into lunch boxes for something different during the week, when we’re sick of salads and sandwiches – they’re ideal for eating with your hands!
- 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- 500g (1lb) arborio rice
- 100g (3½ oz) pine nuts, roughly chopped
- 2 vegetable stock cubes
- 100g (3½ oz) raisins
- 4tbsp freshly chopped mint
- 4tbsp freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Zested rind and juice of 1 lemon
- Salt and black pepper
Set the oven to fairly hot, 200°C (400°F, gas mark 6). Drain the vine leaves and soak them in boiling water for about 20 mins.
Meanwhile, make the filling: Heat 4tbsp olive oil in a pan and add the onion. Cook over a medium heat for about 5 mins, until it softens, then add the garlic and cook for a further 1-2 mins. Add the rice and pine nuts to the pan and cook for 1-2 mins, stirring well.
Pour in 900ml (1½ pints) water and crumble in the stock cubes. Stir until the stock cubes dissolve, then add the raisins. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for 15-20 mins, stirring occasionally, until the rice is just tender and has absorbed the liquid. Remove pan from the heat and stir in the mint, parsley, lemon rind and juice and plenty of seasoning. Leave the mixture to cool slightly.
Drain the vine leaves and spread them out. Place about 1-2 tsp of mixture in the centre of each vine leaf. Fold in the sides and then roll them up. Pack them closely into an ovenproof dish, preferably in a single layer. Pour over 300ml (½ pint) boiling water and drizzle the remaining olive oil over the top.
Cover the dish with a lid or foil. Cook in the centre of the oven for 30 mins. Serve warm or chilled.
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The dolmades may be kept in the fridge for up to three days. Not suitable for freezing.