The grape vines are bursting with new growth at the moment which always inspires me to make dolmades, as taught to me by my Greek sister in law. Of course hers are just perfect, mine on the other hand never taste quite as good, but they are still really yummy and simple to make.
Here are some photos of the process. I can't find her recipe with exact quantities so here's a Bill Granger one that's similar but uses chick peas and some chilli and paprika. Mine uses fresh leaves and tomatoes and a bit of olive oil in the rice mix. I'm sure you could substitute rice for the extra quantity of chick peas.
I've seen a few recipes online that use cooked rice but these are rolled with uncooked and it cooks inside the leaves. These are the vegetarian version. I didn't eat red meat for many years and I still prefer them without meat.
Even the fussy eaters round here love these, this whole pot, three layers by the end, was finished in a day, most of them for dinner with tuna, boiled eggs and salad.
You can buy preprepared vine leaves but its fun to use your own. The best leaves are fresh new ones, you can see how soft and fresh the new growth is. Collect a pile and trim off the stalks. I roll mine and tie them and then pour boiling water over them for a couple of minutes. (If you don't need to use them you can keep them in the fridge in a plastic bag for a day). My sil likes the leaves from an ornamental grape or glory vine best.
Put a spoon of mix in the centre then wrap bottom right, bottom left, top right, top left and then roll to the centre point. Squeeze them all in together and place a plate on top, right side down (oh, and make sure the plate/pot fit is right to start with!)
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