A few weeks ago I had an intense urge for dolmas (stuffed grape leaves), even though I am not even sure that I have had them before. I found a restaurant near me which had them on their menu, but they were expensive. I found some at a couple of grocery stores, but those were even more expensive. I found canned dolmas, but those were…yes, expensive and I figured I might as well try to make my own. (I get why dolmas would be on the pricier side, as they take a while to assemble, especially since they are delicate) Because I’ve been trying to eat especially clean and light lately, I decided to make these riceless. I looked at about 10 different dolma recipes to see what kinds of things are usually in them, and then I mish mashed a number of different ingredients together, depending on what I had in the kitchen and what I managed to pick up at the grocery store. To my pleasant surprise, Whole Foods had a small container of fresh chopped Jicama for a couple of bucks, so I nabbed that up real quick. It was probably one of the more decently priced things at Whole Foods, but we all know it is usually expensive to shop there, so let’s move on!
- jar of grape leaves
- 1 1/2-2 cups cup jicama and/or artichokes (I used a mixture of jicama and canned artichokes)
- 1 1/2 tbs lemon juice + some about 1-2 tbs extra
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 tbs onion, minced (or a shallot)
- 5-7 black olives, pitted and chopped
- 1 tbs minced fresh dill
- 3 tbs mint, minced
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup soaked sun-dried tomato, finely chopped (if using sun-dried tomatoes from a jar which is soaking in olive oil, rinse them off and try to remove as much of the excess oil as possible)
- shredded carrots
- optional: I added in some cranberries that were coated in some ground spices (from Trader Joe’s). Pine nuts would also be nice, as they are sometimes used in Dolmas.
- Remove skin from jicama and chop into very small pieces (like the size of rice). Do the same with the artichoke if you are using any. Place in a medium sized bowl and coat with 1 1/2 tbs of fresh lemon juice.
- Mince the garlic, onion, black olives, dill, mint and sun-dried tomato and place in the bowl. Add in sea salt and ground pepper and 1 tbs of olive oil and mix all of the ingredients together well.
- Carefully remove the grape leaves from the jar and rinse them off, being careful not to tear them. Place one of the grape leaves smooth-side down on a flat surface (bumpy veins facing up). If there are any hard stems, carefully remove them. Add about a tbs or less of the mixture (depending on how big the leaf is) near the bottom centre. Fold up the bottom of the leaf and then the sides and start to roll the grape leaf in a similar fashion that you’d make a burrito or rice paper wrap. Make it as tight as you can without tearing the leaf. (I still haven’t mastered grape-leaf rolling, so if this is your first time too, then just do your best :))
- Once you’ve rolled all of the leaves (I was able to make 28 of them with the amount of filling I had), line a skillet with shredded carrot and place the dolmas in a single layer on top. Squeeze 1-2 tbs of fresh lemon juice all over them and add about a 1/4 cup of water. Place a lid or glass plate on top of the skillet and heat the pan to around medium heat. Once the water starts to bubble, reduce the heat and leave the dolmas to simmer and let them cook for about 25-30 minutes.
- Turn off heat and carefully remove the plate (be careful of steam). Allow the dolmas to cool and soak up any leftover liquids and then serve or place them in an airtight container in the fridge to further cool.