These flavorful little treats are so delicious it’s surprising that they’re vegan! Dolmades are a favorite Greek appetizer and side dish in restaurants and homes alike, and it’s no wonder. We start with grape leaves and stuff them with onion and herb flavored rice, slow simmered in olive oil and then spritzed with a bit of lemon juice. Salt and pepper to taste, and then all that’s left is to pick one up, open your mouth and enjoy!
Cook rice according to package directions.
Peel and dice onion.
Juice the lemon.
If you’re using fresh grape leaves: prepare a bowl of ice water and set aside. Bring water to a boil in large pot and add grapes leaves. Boil leaves until softened (about 2 minutes). Carefully remove leaves and place in ice water to instantly stop the cooking process. Strain leaves and pat dry with paper towel.
If using jarred grape leaves: rinse leaves in cool running water.
Place leaves shiny side down on working surface.
Rinse rice in sauce pan filled with cool water. Agitate water with your hand, drain and refill. Repeat this process until water is no longer cloudy. Fill the saucepan once more with cool water and set aside to soak for 10 minutes. Drain the rice and set aside.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in skillet over medium. Sauté onions until they begin to soften (about 5 minutes). Add the dill, mint and parsley. Continue sautéing until onions become transparent (about 2 minutes more).
Stir in the following:
olive oil (1/4 cup)
Stir fry the rice for 2 minutes, then add water and cook until rice is tender (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat and set aside.
Place a thin layer of grape leaves at bottom of saucepan.
Lay out a layer of grape leaves on a flat working surface. Scoop a teaspoon of rice filling into the center of one of the leaves. Fold leaf sides over the filling and begin rolling from bottom edge up to form a fat cylinder shape.
Place roll, seam side down, in bottom of pan. Add filling to the remainder of the grape leaves, rolling and packing into bottom of pan tightly. Make second layer if needed, always placing the seam side down.
Add remainder of olive oil and 1 1/3 cups water. Place plate over top of dolmades to keep them from opening while cooking. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low.
Simmer dolmades until leaves are very tender (about 45 – 60 minutes).
Remove from heat and allow to cool. Carefully remove plate and transfer dolmades to a serving platter. Drizzle lemon juice over tops. Optionally, sprinkle with chopped parsley.
Serve at room temperature.