This recipe is finger licking delicious. Or fork licking delicious. I’m trying to say it’s for keeps. It’s one you should write down in your family recipe book (we all have one, don’t even try to hide it), bookmark it on your browser or download it on your computer. Doesn’t really matter, just make sure you save it somewhere because it makes for one heck of a delicious and satisfying dinner. You will be topping up your plate again and again. You will be saying ‘I’ll just have one more…just one more.’ Your loved ones will thank you and will love you more.
Almost wherever you go in the Mediterranean area, you will stumble upon some sort of stuffed vine leaves. I tried the Greek dolmades, the Romanian sarmale (heck, I grew up with them. my mother makes the best by the way), the Turkish and Cypriot yalanci dolma and the Lebanese ones that are served as mezze. I LOVE each and all.
This recipe is my home made interpretation of stuffed vine leaves. I made it my own by adding more veggies such as grated carrots (they add such a lovely sweetness when sauteed) and chopped mushrooms (for a layer of earthy flavor). I also added a lot of yummy herbs. But ‘nough said. You loved my lentil meals and you loved my chickpea ones; now you must love this rice based dinner.
- vine leaves (see notes below)
- olive oil
- 1 big onion, finely minced
- 1 big carrot, grated
- 2 green capsicum, finely chopped
- 5 big mushrooms, chopped small
- 1.5 cups rice, uncooked
- 2/3 tsp dry oregano
- 2/3 tsp dry basil
- 1/2 tsp dry thyme
- 1/2 tsp dry dill
- 2 tsp hot paprika
- sea salt, to taste
- black pepper, to taste
- To serve: fresh lemon juice and fresh herbs like parsley and dill
- Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and add the vine leaves to the water.
- Let them simmer for 5 minutes then take them out, rinse in cold water, drain and set aside.
- Sautee the onion in a bit of olive oil on medium heat until golden.
- Add the grated carrot and capsicum and sautee for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the mushrooms and sautee for another 2-3 minutes.
- Add the rice and continue to sautee for another 3-4 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in the dry herbs and the seasoning.
- Allow to cool for few minutes.
- Begin stuffing the vine leaves: spread the vine leaf (rough side up) on a chopping board, add about 1 TBSP of filling to the center, fold the bottom part on top of the filling, then fold the sides on top of the filling and gently (yet firmly) roll it upwards to seal it.
- Continue with the rest of the vine leaves and as you make them, tightly pack them in a casserole lined with vine leaves.
- Once you finish rolling and filling, use some leftover vine leaves to cover the stuffed ones in the casserole.
- Sprinkle with some olive oil and add stock or water just enough to cover the stuffed vine leaves.
- Place 2 dinner plates (heat resistant) on top of the stuffed vine leaves, place the lid on top of the casserole, bring it to a boil and continue to simmer on medium to low heat for about 40 minutes.
- Best served hot with fresh lemon juice and parsley.