There are very few food items that Stud and I come to a complete disagreement over. The Daring Kitchen has decided that the month of October, would be that time.
Every time we go out for Greek or Lebanese, my eyes scour the menu for stuffed vine leaves (dolmades or dolma, depending one where you go) and although Stud would rather poke himself in the eye with his fork than eat them, I have a slight obsession with these little parcels. It’s not such a bad thing that he doesn’t like them – it means more for me right?
So when I looked up this months challenge, I was over the moon as I had been meaning to make them for such a long time! I immediately posted my excitement on the Daring Kitchen wall and got to searching for prepacked vine leaves. I found some (amongst other things I ended up buying. I’m terrible once I get in front of deli items!) at ideli and my order arrived within a couple of days. Fast forward through a busy month and I am finally getting around to making them.
There are many recipes provided and I also had a look around online for other variations but in the end, I made my own recipe with what I had on hand.
500g mince beef
100g diced dried figs
½ cup crushed peanuts
1 ½ cups uncooked, white basmati rice
½ cup chopped fresh mint
1 tsp all spice
1 medium onion, diced
1 packet vine leaves in brine
If using brined vine leaves, drain, place in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let sit until water is warm enough to touch then rinse thoroughly.
Place mince, rice, figs, peanuts, mint onion and all spice in a bowl and mix until well combined. It’s probably best to use your hands for this to make sure it’s all well combined.
Place a vine leave down on the board and put a small amount of the filling in the middle. Roll the middle of the leaf then fold in the sides and continue rolling until you have a stumpy looking thumb type shape. Continue the process until all the vine leaves and/or mixture is finished. Do the same with the cabbage leaves if using.
The rolling process was quite fun actually and I even did a few stuffed cabbage leaves with some leftover mix so that Stud wouldn’t feel left out.
I thought I would cook the two leaves differently and experiment with how it might turn out. I love saying experiment. It’s basically my way of going “cross your fingers and hope its edible” haha. With the vine leaves, I packed them in tightly, stuffed thin lemon wedges between them, poured over the chicken stock, weighed it all down with a plate to ensure they didn’t unravel and let them simmer for an hour.
I had a slight issue with putting the stove a little too high so the water boiled and a couple unravelled but once it was turned down, they were all good. The ones that did unravel were still tasty, just more of a rice dish :/
After placing the cabbage leaf rolls together in an oven proof dish, I covered them with some leftover passata sauce and a little water and put them in the oven for an hour to cook until they were tender.
I put all in the fridge and didn’t end up trying them until the next day as I much prefer my dolmades cold so had some for lunch the next day and was suitably impressed with my efforts. They tasted pretty much like the ones I would have out with a little hint of fig in each. A nice touch I thought although the small fig seeds wouldn’t be to everyone’s taste as they did add an unusual texture.
I’ll definitely keep making these as they are great to take to work, healthy and really filling. Give it a go guys – it’s not as hard as I thought it would be