If you`re lucky enough to have grape vines, then now`s the time to gather your leaves for dolmathes (ντολμάδες). If they aren`t yours, make sure with the owner that firstly, it is ok to gather, secondly, to check whether they have been sprayed or not. If they have been sprayed, come back in 2 weeks (before being sprayed again) and gather freshly grown leaves. Chose the type which don`t have “fingers” if possible, and make sure they are the most recent and tender. You can tell the difference in the colour of the leaves, the darker the leaf colour, the older it is. The newer, tender leaves are a lovely delicate green.
If you have a good supply you may want to store some for the rest of the year, I`ll cover different ways of preserving on another post.
50 / 60 vine leaves
400 gr rice rinsed
1 onion grated
1 artichoke heart grated (you can use preserved)
Bunch each of parsley, dill and mint, chopped finely
2 ripe tomatoes grated
1/2 tsp ground cumin
S & P
If your vine leaves are fresh, blanch them for a few seconds, just until the colour changes, as below
Leave to strain, until you prepare the filling. Lay some pre-washed, tougher vine leaves in the bottom of the pan to protect the dolmathes from burning.
Mix all of the ingredients together well, including olive oil. Take a comfy seat and a nice frappe and begin to roll.
Place a teaspoon of the mixture at the edge where you cut the leaf from the stem and fold in the sides first, then roll till you have a small parcel. Tuck the dolmathes in the pan, reasonably tightly, so they don`t unravel during cooking. When finished, lay a plate upside down over the dolmathes, pour in enough water to just be visible over the surface of the dolmathes, bring to a gentle simmer and leave for approx. 20 / 25 mins. Remove from heat and leave to cool somewhat, before trying to remove from the pan.
Here, I have popped in stuffed courgette flowers too (ανθούς). Prep for flowers on another post.
These can be served either as snack/meze with a little lemon juice, or as a main meal, with traditional egg and lemon sauce, recipe for sauce can be found under Stuffed Courgettes in a previous post.