Dolmades (aka dolmas) are a popular dish in many Mediterranean, middle eastern and Balkan Countries. It’s fascinating to me how such a basic culinary concept – stuffing something edible with a flavourful mixture – has been adopted, adapted and made uniquely regional across so many cultures. The sheer variety of dolmades and their presence in so many cuisines is a testament to their universal appeal. They’re perfect for adding to a platter and ideal for a picnic. You may be used to having dolmades from a can, but they are easy to make yourself and add your own touches. When making my own, I like to start with the classic herb and rice filling, and fill my dolmades with sun-dried tomato and pine nuts.
Sun-dried tomatoes, though they are not part of the traditional recipe, are a wonderful ingredient that adds a unique twist to the dish, making it even more savoury and flavourful. The toasted pine nuts are another popular Mediterranean ingredient that adds texture with a buttery crunch. When considering what to add to your dolmades think about texture as well as taste.
Dolmades with Sun-dried Tomato and Pine Nuts
- 80ml extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup long grain white rice
- 1 medium red onion, finely diced
- 8-12 sun-dried tomatoes
- 3 tbsp toasted pine nuts
- 1/4 cup fresh dill, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
- 1 L savoury vegetable stock
- 30 grape leaves, drained and rinsed
- lemon zest
- 30ml lemon juice
I prefer to use sun-dried tomatoes that are packed in oil for their flavour. You can also use the oil instead of olive oil in this recipe. If you’re using dried sun-dried tomatoes that are not packed in oil, you’ll first want to rehydrate them. Soak them in hot water for about 20-30 minutes until they become pliable. Then, drain and chop them finely.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy based large pan and sauté the rice and onion for about 5 minutes.
Pour in half of the stock and bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until rice is almost cooked through.
Remove from heat and add chopped herbs, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, lemon zest and juice and stir until evenly mixed.
On a clean surface place one grape leaf shiny side down, stem side up. At the stem end, place a heaped teaspoon of the rice mixture and fold the sides inwards towards the centre of the leaf, then roll up from the stem to the top.
Place rolled dolmades seam side down, next to each other with no gaps to ensure they don’t unroll while cooking.
Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and pour in enough stock to just cover the dolmades.
Place an upside down plate, just smaller than your pot, on top to keep the dolmades submerged and put on a lid and gently simmer on a low heat for 40-50 minutes or until the rice is tender.
Cool for 15-20 minutes before serving.
Dolmades with sun-dried tomato and pine nuts can be simply served a squeeze of lemon or with plant-based Tzatziki. As part of a mezze with homemade hummus, moutabel, a loaf of fresh bread for dipping and some coated labneh. Lentil and Walnut Kofte, Falafel or platter of Tabouleh Stuffed Peppers will turn your mezze into a feast.