Yaprakia/Dolmathes (Greek Stuffed Grape Leaves)


This classic Greek dish can be served as an appetizer or main dish. Rolling the grape leaves may be time consuming, but it is certainly worth the effort. Delicious!

My mother’s hallmark dish! She makes the best, and our family can’t get enough of them. My husband especially loves them, so they’ve become his standing birthday, Christmas and Father’s Day present.

Susan Tweeton

Ingredients

  • 1½ pound lean ground beef or lamb
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1-cup long grain white rice
  • 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1-tablespoon mint
  • 1-tablespoon dill weed
  • 1-tablespoon oregano
  • ½ cup chopped, fresh parsley (optional)
  • 1-teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 16 ounce jar grape leaves (approximately 50 leaves)
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Beef broth, chicken broth, or vegetable broth

Directions

  1. Remove rolls of grape leaves from jar and unroll. Rinse under cold water and drain well. Set aside badly torn leaves for use later. Cut stems off grape leaves.
  2. Optional: For more tender leaves, place leaves in large pot of boiling water and cook for 3 minutes.
  3. Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until translucent; cool.
  4. Mix rice, onion and garlic mixture, tomato sauce, mint, dill weed, oregano, parsley (if using), salt and pepper in large bowl; mix well.
  5. Add ground beef or lamb to filling ingredients and mix thoroughly using hands.
  6. Lay a leaf, vein side up, in your hand with stem pointing toward you.
  7. Place tablespoon of filling (depending on size of leaf) on the part of leaf where stem begins (near center). The filling should form a narrow cylinder; do not over fill or the rolls will burst during cooking. 
  8. Tuck in side edges to secure filling.
  9. Roll from you toward the tip of the leaf, forming a small cylinder approximately 2½ inches long and ¾ inches wide. Do not wrap too loosely or the roll will come undone during cooking.

Stove Top Method:

  1. Line bottom of 5 quart Dutch oven with a single layer of the reserved torn grape leaves. 
  2. Place rolls seam side down in bottom of pot, tightly together in concentric circles, layer upon layer. You want a tight fit so that rolls don’t unravel when cooking. Continue until all rolls are in pot. Any leftover filling may be rolled in cabbage leaves or lettuce leaves or made into tiny meatballs and placed on top of rolled grape leaves in pot.
  3. Optional: Cover top with another single layer of the reserved torn grape leaves.
  4. Cover rolls completely with broth and lemon juice.
  5. Place a heavy plate that fits inside the pot over rolls as a weight to keep leaves from unrolling. For good measure, place a clean rock or stone on top of the plate to secure the rolls.
  6. Cover pot and bring to slow simmer. Simmer gently about 75-90 minutes or until rice is tender.
  7. Remove from heat when done. Let stand covered for 20-30 minutes before serving.

Baked Method:

  1. Line bottom of 13 x 9 baking dish with a single layer of the reserved torn grape leaves. 
  2. Place rolls seam side down in rows in baking dish, layer upon layer. You want a tight fit so that rolls don’t unravel when cooking. Continue until all rolls are in baking dish.
  3. Cover top with another single layer of the reserved torn grape leaves.
  4. Cover rolls completely with broth and lemon juice.
  5. Cover pan with aluminum foil that has been greased on inside.
  6. Bake at 350° for 75-90 minutes until both meat and rice are done.
  7. Let stand covered for 20-30 minutes before serving.

Serving suggestions

Yaprakia/Dolmathes may be served hot, warm, or cold. If hot or warm, serve with avgolemono sauce prepared from broth or plain, unflavored yogurt. If cold, serve with plain, unflavored yogurt.


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