Dolmades (Stuffed Grape Leaves)

I grew up in a shopping mall. This is not a joke - my parents owned a pet store in the local mall from the time I was eight until I was thirteen. For five glorious years, I played with puppies, kittens, bunny rabbits and the like on a daily basis. My after school babysitters were the pet shop employees, mostly local high school students and college kids. I roamed the halls of the mall, forming a love of fashion and Greek food.

Many of my after school snacks and dinners were eaten at the mall, when my parents were working late. My younger brother and I were free to roam the mall alone, and we spent many hours running through the place like it was our own house. The arcade was our playroom, the clothing stores our closet, and the food court was our kitchen. There was a Greek food stall in the food court, and my young self quickly made friends with its owners who encouraged me to try all of their various options. Not many eight-year-olds eat stuffed grape leaves, but they were my favorite. Back then I ate meat, now I don't. Back then my parents sold animals, now they are practically animal rights activists. Things change. My love of Dolmades did not.

I think my recipe is the bomb-dot-com, but if you're pressed for time, don't try it. This is a time-consuming activity to say the least. In a pinch, buy the ones in a jar from Trader Joe's. I also like the different varieties available at Whole Foods, but at about $5 for 4 pieces, that can get expensive. This entire recipe costs less than $10, and makes 25-30 pieces (depending on how many leaves are workable in your jar.) I'm excited to have these for lunch all week.

Greek Dolmades (Stuffed Grape Leaves)
Makes 25-30
Time needed: 2 hours

1 Jar Grape Leaves
1 Cup Brown Rice
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
1 Tsp. Sea Salt
1 Small Yellow Onion
2 Cloves Garlic
1 Cup Fresh Chopped Parsley
1/4 Cup Fresh Chopped Mint
1 Tbs. Tomato Paste
2 Cups No-Chicken Broth
2 Lemons, juiced
1 Can Chick Peas (Garbanzo Beans), rinsed and drained
2 Ripe Red Tomatoes
1 Tsp. Cumin
1/2 Tsp. Seasoned Salt

Blanch the grape leaves in a pot of boiling water for 10 minutes. Remove from the water, and set aside.
In the same pot (save yourself some dishes), place the brown rice, olive oil, sea salt, onion and garlic. Stir well and cook over medium-high heat for 15 minutes, until the rice is browned and the onions are soft.
Mix in the parsley, mint and tomato paste, followed by the no-chicken broth and juice of two lemons. Allow to cook until most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender, but not fully cooked, about 25-30 minutes.
Rinse and drain the chick peas, and give them a rough chop. Add in two diced tomatoes.
Stir the chick peas and tomatoes into the rice mixture.
Place a grape leaf on a plate.
Put about 2 Tbs. of the filling into the center of the leaf.
Fold up the bottom half, then the sides, rolling like a little burrito.
Place all of the dolmades into the same pot you blanched the leaves and cooked the filling in (after giving it a quick rinse) and cover the leaves with fresh water.
Place on the stove and bring back to a boil and cook for an additional 15 minutes over a simmer.
Ideally, your finished product should look like this:
Image from here.

My new camera and I are still figuring each other out, so this is the only picture of my finished product I have:
Looks yummy, huh?

I hope you all have a great Monday!



  1. that's something i've always wanted to make.

    my parents used to own a business for part of my childhood. so we used to run around the hotel and restaurant like we ruled the place. i think its a great situation to grow up in!

  2. Dolmas are OUR favorite little snack! Thanks for the recipe. Cant wait to make them!!

  3. congrats on the new cam and the great recipe, of course, yum!

  4. pleasure to find such a good artical! please keep update!!.................................................................                           

  5. I love Dolma *it's how I call it; Turkish style* ;)
    Absolutley love it, and whenever I have it I just can't get enough...it brings back so many memories...it's a total food party in my mouth! ;) Haha.

  6. Wow even thought you said this is time consuming, you make it look simple. It's one dish I've been hesitant to try and make myself, particularly as they are everywhere in my part of the world. Hope you are looking after yourself! xoxox


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