Vegan Dolmas have been enjoyed for centuries and while many versions contain meat, this recipe is a vegetarian delight.
Dolmas, just one of many stuffed vegetable dishes, have been widely adapted through the years, and enjoyed by Greeks and Turks since the 17th-century. Dolma means ‘to be stuffed’ in Turkish, and represents any vegetable that is hollowed and filled with aromatic herbs, vegetables, grains and rice. Variations of the cuisine allow for a meat-filled version with minced meat, ground beef or lamb.
The best-known vegetarian adaption is the chilled Mediterranean grape-leaf dolma, pictured above. Its Greek cousin, Dolmathes, are best when stuffed with a 50/50 blend of ground beef and lamb, boiled and served hot with an avgolemono (egg and lemon) sauce. If you have ever had the pleasure of dining with a Greek family at Easter or Christmas, chances are you’ve had dolmathes.
The vegan dolma is a perfect food for your party platter. Attractive, stackable and bite-sized, the tasty finger food is served chilled or at room temperature and pairs amazingly well with dried fruit, feta, gorgonzola, and crumbled bleu cheese.
This is a recipe for vegan dolmas. Served alone on the platter, or with a Greek yogurt or cucumber Tzatziki sauce, your guests will remember these tasty morsels. If you’re looking for a wine to pair with the cuisine, choose Retsina, a Greek infused white wine.
- 10 oz. brined grape leaves (approx. 50 leaves)
- ½ cup olive oil
- 2 1/3 cups long-grain rice, uncooked
- 4 green onion, chopped
- ½ yellow onion, chopped
- 1/3 cup raisins, chopped
- ½ cup fresh chopped mint
- zest of a lemon
- salt to taste
- 1/3 cup pine nuts finely chopped
- juice of 1 lemon
- 2 qts. water
Swaps: Plums, figs, currants or cherries for the raisins. Chestnuts for the pine nuts.
- Drain the grape leaves into a colander and run water over them until the brine solution is washed off; approximately 10 minutes.
- Heat ¼ cup of olive oil in a medium skillet. Sauté the green and yellow onions until translucent and tender; approximately 5 minutes.
- Reduce heat to low and add the rice, mint, lemon zest, pine nuts and raisins. Add salt to taste.
- Remove from heat. Mix completely, ensuring the rice is integrated and coated with oil.
- Spread open one grape leaf, vein side up with the stem end closest to you. Put a small ball of the rice mixture in the center of the leaf; approximately 1 heaping tablespoon.
- Fold the stem end into the center of the leaf, over the filling. Fold the sides of the leaf into the center. Tuck and roll, keeping the leaf taut, forming an oblong shape.
- Repeat the assembly steps until all the filling is used.
- Bring 2 qts. of water to a boil.
- Nestle the dolmas snugly in a single layer, seam side down, in a large skillet.
- Pour the lemon juice and ¼ cup of olive oil over the dolmas and add enough boiling water to cover.
- Cover and simmer for 1 hour. Remove from heat. Let the dolmas cool right in the liquid.
- Transfer to a serving platter. Serve at room temperature. Makes 50 appetizers.
Editor’s Note: Photo courtesy Quinn.anya Creative Commons