Also known as dolmades, these flavourful little roll-ups of spiced ground beef and vine leaves are popular as a snack and a side in Greece.
- 35 vine leaves, preserved in brine
- 1 ½ tbsp (30 ml) olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- ½ tsp (2.5 ml) ground cumin
- 1 cup (240 ml) long-grain white rice
- 225 g ground beef
- ¼ cup (60 ml) fresh dill, chopped
- 1 tsp (5 ml) fresh mint, chopped
- Lemon wedges
- Olive oil
- Plain yoghurt
- Salt and fresh ground pepper
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
- Prepare the vine leaves by draining them from the brine and rinsing them well under warm water. Remove the stems carefully with a sharp knife, and leave to drain in a colander.
- Heat the olive oil frypan over medium heat, and sauté the onions and cumin until the onions are translucent and the cumin is fragrant.
- Add the onion mixture to a large bowl and mix in the rice, beef, dill, and mint. Season well with salt and pepper.
- Line the bottom of a large, heavy-based saucepan with a single layer of grape leaves.
- Working in batches, place the remaining leaves shiny-side down on a flat surface, pointy tip at the top. Add spoonful of rice mixture to the centre of the leaf, near the bottom, but above the cut where the stem has been removed. Take the two bottom edges of the leaf, and roll up tightly around the rice mixture, towards the centre. Fold in both left and right sides of the vine leaf to meet in the middle. Continue rolling up leaf from the bottom until it’s a tight package. Place on a plate seam-side down so it does not unravel.
- Repeat until all leaves and rice mixture have been rolled up.
- Place parcels seam side down in the bottom of the heavy saucepan in one layer, tightly packed. If necessary, depending on the size of your saucepan, make a second layer of parcels.
- Add water until the parcels are just covered.
- Place a heavy heat-proof plate on top of the rolls to keep them packed down tightly while they boil.
- Bring water to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer on low. Cover and simmer for 40-45 minutes, or until the rice and meat have cooked (you can open one to check).
- Remove from heat and arrange cooked vine leaves on a large plate or platter. Season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with some fresh lemon and olive oil. Serve with yoghurt and lemon wedges.