Stuffed vine leaves - Dolmades
We have all seen and tried stuffed vine leaves - Dolmades when on holidays in Cyprus and Greece. Koubebia, as they are known in Cyprus, are delicious any time of the year, either as a light main dish, side dish or cooked in the juice of a stew like taro - kolokasi (see blog post dated 20 February 2018). The meat mixture can also be used to make stuffed vegetables like; green peppers, tomatoes, courgette, onions and eggplants. It seems like a lot of work stuffing the vine leaves one by one, but with a little practice they are quite easy to prepare and they are definitely worth it!
200 gr fresh or frozen vine leaves
500 gr minced pork (good quality)
1 medium onion finely shopped
250 gr washed glace rice
3 ripe tomatoes pureed
1/2 teaspoon sugar (optional)
1 glove garlic (optional)
fresh parsley finely chopped
salt and pepper
some olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
In a large frying pan add some olive oil and fry the onion till soft and glaze, add garlic if you use it and fry lightly, in the meantime sprinkle salt, pepper and paprika powder on the minced pork and then add it also to the pan, stir it all around until the minced meat changes color.
The next step is to add the washed rice and the pureed tomatoes. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. The juice should be absorbed by the rice.
Set aside to cool for 15 minutes and then add the rest of the spices (parsley, dry mint). Squeeze half the lemon over the meat mixture and set aside. (see also the pictures above in the slideshow).
Soften the vine leaves in hot (boiled) water for a few minutes and drain in a colander. Place the leaves one by one with the veins facing up on your worktop.
Scoop on each leaf a spoon or more of the meat mixture, depending on the size of the leaves.
The folding of the leaves is done as follows, first turn the bottom sides over the meat mixture and then fold over the sides. Then roll to the end of the leaf. This needs some tactic, they should be rolled not too tide but also not to loose. (See pictures below).
Make as many leaves as your meat mixture permits.
(At this point you can freeze the rolled vine leaves.)
Place them all side to side in a small casserole. When the bottom is entirely covered, make another layer, until all stuffed leaves are used.
Squeeze the other half of the lemon over the koubebia (be careful of pits) and poor a little olive oil over them.
Place a small plate upside down over the koubebia and add water and a little salt to cover them. Bring to the boil and simmer for 25 minutes with the lid closed. The water should be completely absorbed by the rice and the rice to be swollen and soft.
Serve them with tzantziki (Greek yogurt dip with olive oil, lemon juice, crushed garlic, dry mint and grated salted cucumber) and a crisp salad. Delicious!!
Good luck and enjoy! Καλή όρεξη!