Introduction: Stuffed Grape Leaves or Dolmades

About: I am married with two children. Spring, summer, and fall are my very favorite times of the year. I enjoy working in the yard, sewing, cooking, quilting, gardening, and creating. I do this to keep my sanity.

After moving away from the west coast I have missed a lot of the places I used to visit. I loved their authentic restaurants like The Macedonia Greek and Italian Restaurant located in Salem, Oregon. Video tour and here: When my son told me he was moving to Seattle I can't tell you how elated I was. I will be going to a lot of the places I have missed so much and I will have lunch at the Macedonia Greek and Italian restaurant and order some stuffed grape leaves. I will also be visiting the Jerusalem Cafe in Vancouver, Washington and order my favorite meal and chat with Anton!  Since I have moved away, I have learned how to make stuffed grape leaves and hummus myself,  but it is a nice treat to be able to go out and have someone else wait on me. I appreciate family owned restaurants because they make authentic foods that are usually fresh and they almost always have a friendly and warm atmosphere!

I make them from my neighbors grape leaves that flow over the fence into our yard.  If Emile was here right now she would be receiving a plate of them to enjoy. If you are missing those tasty stuffed leaves follow through and I will show you how easy they are to make. By the way if you like this instructable and think it is worthy of your vote for the copy cat contest, please stop by and vote when the vote button is at the top right corner of this page, sometimes it takes a day or two for them to prove the entry. Thanks in advance!

Step 1: Ingredients

I make my stuffed grape leaves from fresh grape leaves but they do sell them in a jar. If you purchase them that way you will need to soak them in a bowl for a couple of hours  and rinse them several times to remove the salt brine or they will be too salty. If you are making them from a jar there is no need to boil the leaves before filling them. The best time to pick grape leaves is in June selecting the smaller tender leaves with small veins. The leaves can be stored in the refrigerator or frozen for a longer period of time. You may add coriander, dill, and cinnamon if you like more spices.  

1 1/2 pounds fresh ground beef or lamb
1 Cup uncooked long grain rice
1 jar grape leaves or about 50 fresh organic leaves
2 cans chicken broth reserving 1 can to cook the rolled leaves in
1 Large onion I used a yellow onion
1 cup fresh cherry tomatoes or canned tomatoes 
1/4 cup dried parsley
fresh parsley for garnish
1/4 cup mint
1-2 lemons for garnish and juice over the top of the leaves after they are cooked. 
2 tablespoons Olive oil
3-4 garlic buds
sea salt to taste
Kosher salt optional  
1/4 teaspoon cumin 
fresh ground pepper corns
Greek yogurt for dipping
Recipe makes about 4 servings.I usually have leftover filling and I use an ice-cream scoop and place a ball on the plate along with the filled grape leaves. They can be made into a vegetarian dish as well.

Step 2: Wash and Boil

If using a jar of grape leaves soak them for 2 hours and rinse several times to remove the salt brine. Dry them with a towel and then cover and place in the refrigerator until time to stuff them. If using fresh grape leaves follow the instructions below.  

Start a pan of boiling salted water.
Wash and rinse the leaves very very thoroughly but be careful not to damage the leaves. Set them on a plate.
Boil a few leaves at a time until they are wilted less than 30 seconds. 
I removed them using a slotted spatula and placed them on a plate and patted them with a paper towel.
Continue to cook the rest of the leaves. 

Step 3: Onions and Rice

Saute onions and rice in the olive oil until the onions just begin to change color, they will be cooked again later for about 45 minutes.

Step 4: Hamburger

Cook the hamburger until the center is almost done but not quite. The hamburger will be cooked again in the leaves.
Add the dried parsley, garlic, cumin, kosher salt and or sea salt, ground pepper, and mint to the hamburger.

Step 5: Combine

Add the tomatoes to the rice mixture
Add 1 can of chicken broth 
Add hamburger mixture
Cook this down until the rice has absorbed the broth
Remove from heat

Step 6: Fill and Roll Grape Vines

Fill and roll grape leaves using about 1-2 tablespoons of the rice mixture.
It takes time to do this but it is worth the effort.
Place the rolled leaves on a plate.
I placed carrots in the bottom of my pan to keep the grape leaves from getting soggy while they cooked in the chicken broth but you can place the stuffed leaves in a pan and cover them lightly with the remaining can of chicken broth but watch them closely so they do not burn. I layered the leaves over the carrots away from the edges of the pan and covered them with foil to keep them from moving.
Cook about 45 minutes to one hour on a low heat. The idea is to steam the leaves not boil them. Perhaps a small steamer would work for this but I have not tried that method.

Step 7: Sunshiine's Final Thoughts

Serve with yogurt as a dipping sauce and generously pour lemon juice over the tops of the leaves.

Stuffed grape leaves make a nice meal, appetizer, or side dish. There are many different variations a person could make and a great way to use up left overs. 

Thank you instructables, our sponsors, authors, and loyal readers for making this place a great place to share! I hope each one of you have a safe and happy fall!


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