Stuff Yourself

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Dolmades or dolmas — better known as stuffed grape leaves — have long been a fixture of Mediterranean-style appetizer spreads. They’re one of those foods that just seem to materialize magically from supermarket cans or specialty-store containers; we eat them happily, but most of us have never endeavored to make them ourselves. Truth be told, sometimes we don’t even know what’s inside them.

Until recently, I tackled dolmas exactly once: in a forlorn upstate New York town that had some vineyards. But since then, I’ve made the project routine, because D.I.Y. dolmas are not only doable but come with a significant advantage: choice. Whether they are from regular grocery stores (not great) or Mediterranean markets (much better), dolmas are typically the same: grape leaves stuffed with soft rice, sometimes lentils or meat and whopped with lemon. Making them yourself means you cannot only play around with the flavors of the fillings, but you can also use other grains and leaves as well.

Read the rest of this article, here.

Posted in Recipes


  1. D. Bran said...

    Take care to use organic leaves. Grape production normally involves a lot of fungicide and pesticide application.

  2. Cypat said...

    My Cypriot friend advised me to place a plate on top of the dolmas before adding the liquid to the pot and weight to plate with a large, clean rock. It keeps the leaves from unrolling while simmering.

  3. Mike Norman said...

    Thanks for the article. I was first introduced to dolmas by a co-worker while on a business trip in New England many years ago. He was from Slovakia and had a really wide range of experience in different culinary tastes. We stopped at a little Greek restaurant he knew about. It was the kind of place where everyone working there was speaking their native language and most of them were family. He talked me into ordering some dolmas. To this day, I still remember how absolutely wonderful they were. I had never had much in the way of authentic Mediterranean cuisine, but my eyes were opened up that day to a whole new way of experiencing food. I never pass up an opportunity to dig into a plate full of these. They are one of my favorites.

  4. Paul McCary said...

    Great ideas for variations on the basic theme. Classic dolmathes (lamb, rice, parsley and onion) were a staple at our house growing up. We now harvest wild grape leaves (just find some that weren’t sprayed; we’re blessed with some in our yard) in mid-June when they are at their best, blanch and freeze them in 45-leave packets so we can enjoy dolmas all year long. They are far superior to most leaves on offer at markets, which tend to be too salty, too veiny, too tender or all three. Also, for special occasions, serve with classic Greek egg & lemon sauce.

  5. Ileen Gusoff said...

    I just finished making my dolmas The filling is great I used Quinoa , cooked and flavored, I added capers, black olives ,raisins, turkish apricots . I blanched the jarred grape leaves , dried , rolled the leaf around the filling and followed the rest of ther recipe using stock and water and placing a heavy container on top of the dolmas. The leaves are tough . When you said to remove the stem and veins that’s where I got stuck . I did remove the stem but couldn’t remove veins without tearing the leaf. I was very excited about making the Dolmas but disappointed with the final result because of the toughness of the leaf. I am a fan of Mark Bittman since on the Road Again Spain. Ileen Gusoff

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