Here is my wild foods recipe from the past weekend. Grape leaves are now in season, and wild leaves are easy to forage in most parts of the city. Their tiny wild grapes also make a wonderful addition to jams/jelly later in the season, but for now, harvest some of the leaves for a tasty summer appetizer - stuffed grape leaves. Wild grape leaves are preferred over cultivated grape leaves for authentic flavour & texture! Dolmades pair nicely with tangy tzatziki yogurt sauce.
Tip: Wild grape leaves can also be lacto-fermented (see previous post) using a salt-water brine solution (1.5-2 Tbsp sea salt per 1 litre water) to be preserved and used later in the season for making stuffed grape leaves.
Dolmades: Stuffed Wild Grape Leaves
10 large wild harvested grape leaves
1/8 cup olive oil
1/2 cup cooked rice (or other grain)
1 green onion, chopped finely
1/4 cup red onion, minced
1 Tbsp fresh mint, minced
1 tsp lemon juice
Salt to taste
1/8 cup pine nuts, minced
1) Place grape leaves in large heat-proof bowl, pour enough boiling water over to cover. Let them soak about 20 min. Drain.
2) In the meantime, heat oil in skillet. Add the onions and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the rice, mint, lemon, salt and pine nuts. Mix well.
3) To stuff the grape leaves, spread out one grape leaf in front of you, vein side up and stem end toward you. Place about 2 teaspoons of the rice mixture in the center, fold stem end over the filling, bring the sides of the leaf toward the center and roll tightly, forming a cylinder.
4) Dolmas can be eaten at this stage, or cooked as follows: Place the dolmas close together seam side down in a large skillet, in a single layer OR separate layers with extra grape leaves.
5) Drizzle a little extra lemon juice and olive oil over the dolmas, add boiling water to cover. Cover pan tightly, simmer 1 hour. Let dolmas cool in the liquid, then transfer to a serving platter. Serve cooled with tzatziki sauce.
Tzatziki Cucumber Dip
1 cups thick, plain yogurt
1 small cucumber, peeled and diced
4 green onions, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 cup fresh chopped mint, & extra for garnish
Salt and pepper to taste
1) In a small bowl, beat the yogurt until smooth.
2) Fold in the onion & garlic, salt and pepper.
3) Fold in the mint, then add the cucumber.
4) Garnish with fresh chopped mint, if desired. Chill well before serving.
5) Serve with crusty bread, raw vegetables or dolmas. Makes about 1 1/2 cups dip.