January 20th, 2016
Mint & Walnut Dolmades
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 2/3 cup long-grain white rice
- 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
- 1/4 cup shelled walnuts chopped
- 1/4 cup raisins roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh mint chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh oregano chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- approx. 30 tender grape leaves or use marinated leaves
- juice of one lemon
- extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- approx. 1 cup boiling water
- Preheat oven 160C.
- Heat olive oil in a heavy-based sauté pan over a low heat. Sauté the onions for 5 minutes until softened. Add the rice and cook for 1 minute. Add the remaining filling ingredients and stir to combine. Cover with a lid and cook for 10 minutes until the rice is plump and water absorbed – it won’t be quite cooked.
- Prepare the grape leaves. Snip off the stalks as close as possible to the leaf. Pour boiling water into a large shallow saucepan to a depth of 4cm. Keeping the water at a gentle boil, blanch the grape leaves in batches for 2 minutes to soften for rolling. Place blanched leaves in a colander.
- To roll the dolmades lay 4 - 5 leaves in a row on the bench. Place 1 tablespoon of the rice filling at the base of each leaf where the stalk was attached. Roll one at a time by folding in the sides of the leaves to cover the filling and rolling up tightly into a thick cigar shape. Arrange the dolmades seam-side down in a shallow baking tray. Make sure they fit snugly so they don’t unroll during cooking.
- Once all the dolmades are rolled pour over the lemon juice and drizzle generously with olive oil. Scatter evenly with the extra salt and pour over enough boiling water to just cover the dolmades. Place another baking tray on top as a weight to keep the dolmades submerged as they cook. Place in the oven and slow bake for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and cool in the tray until warm and ready to serve. Store extra dolmades in an airtight container in the fridge and consume within 3 days.
This Homegrown Kitchen website was born from our abundant garden harvest. On our urban property, just shy of a quarter acre, at last count we have 35 fruiting trees and berries. To list them all here would take too long so here is a short list of our favorites – apricot, white-fleshed peach, greengage, thorn-less blackberries, lisbon lemon, walnut, hazelnut, omega plum and feijoa. Although we are in no way self-sufficient, we are certainly getting close when it comes to our fruit supply.
Of all our fruiting plants, it’s the indoor grape that takes the cake for spectacle. And it was one of the main inspirations when I was naming Homegrown Kitchen. Our sun room, in which the grape grows, literally brings the seasons indoors. During spring and autumn we eat our meals under the vines. And although in summer it is often too hot and winter too cold, the sun room is still the central focus of our home no matter what the season. With the added bonus that it acts as a passive heat source during the winter when the grape leaves are pruned back to the woody vines, warming our house without turning a switch.
And oh the temptation of those plump little globes of fruit at present. Every day, many times, I am asked if the grapes are ready. For two little ones the tease of the fruit growing overhead is too much. But we wait, because if we eat them too early the tart fruit is so very disappointing compared to the perfect juicy fruit that will be in a months time. Although we can eat the leaves. At least once a summer I like to make dolmades, and each time I make them they are a little different. Sometimes I use millet or quinoa in place of rice, other times I add a little minced lamb. But one thing is constant in my dolmade making, the addition of handfuls of mint that grows rampantly under our citrus trees.