Friday, January 9, 2009

Dolmades (Stuffed Grape Leaves) for Tyler Florence Fridays

I wanted my pick for Tyler Florence Fridays this week to be a healthier choice and this recipe for Dolmades (Stuffed Grape Leaves), on the Food Network site (here), from an episode of Food 911, looked like a good one.  I love dolmades, but had never tried making them before and thought this would be a great opportunity. Overall they are pretty healthy as-is, but to get a little more fiber and nutrients in them I replaced the white rice with brown rice.

Dolmades (Stuffed Grape Leaves)
Tyler Florence, Food Network

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
1 small fennel bulb, halved, cored and diced
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 cup long-grain rice
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons finely chopped dill leaves
1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (8-ounce) jar grape leaves, rinsed and drained
2 lemons, juiced

To make the filling, coat a large saute pan with 1/4 cup of the oil and place over medium heat. Add the onion, fennel and lemon zest and stir until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the pine nuts and rice, saute for 2 minutes, stirring to coat. Pour in just 1/2 cup of the chicken stock and lower the heat. Simmer until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente, about 10 minutes. Scrape the parboiled rice mixture into a bowl and add the dill and parsley; season with salt and pepper. Allow to cool. Now on to the grape leaves.
Bring a big pot of water to a simmer. Blanch the grape leaves in the hot water for 5 minutes until pliable. Drain then trim the stems and any hard veins from the leaves. Pat dry with paper towels.

To assemble the dolmades, lay a grape leaf on a work surface, shiny-side down.

Put 2 tablespoons of the rice filling near the stem end of the leaf.

Fold the stem end over the filling, then fold both sides toward the middle, and roll up into a cigar – it should be snug but not overly tight because the rice will swell once it is fully cooked.

Squeeze lightly in the palm of your hand to secure the roll. Repeat with remaining grape leaves and filling.

Place the dolmades in a large Dutch oven or wide deep skillet, seam-side down in a single layer. Pour the remaining cup of broth, remaining olive oil, and the lemon juice over the dolmades, the liquid should reach halfway up the rolls, add some water if necessary.

Cover the pan and simmer over low heat for 30 to 40 minutes, until the dolmades are tender when pierced with a fork. Serve warm, at room temperature or cool.

Notes/Results:  Because brown rice cooks much longer than white rice, I parboiled the brown rice in the chicken broth separately and for a longer period of time than the recipe stated, (about 25 minutes), before stirring it into the onion/fennel mixture. Ultimately, that wasn't enough time and it resulted it me having to simmer the finished rolls almost an hour to get the rice to the right texture and making my dolmades a bit more dark and wrinkled than they should have been. Next time, if using brown rice, I will either soak the rice overnight before-hand or parboil it about 40 minutes to alleviate that problem. Otherwise they went together fine, rolled easily and they tasted great. I ended up halving the recipe (I didn't need 30 dolmades) and cutting down on some of the olive oil. One note; Tyler instructs about 2 Tbsp of filling in each roll.  My grape leaves were not large enough for that much filling and there is no way I would have gotten 15 dolmades using that amount so I had about 1 (slightly heaping) Tbsp of filling in each. Also I did put a dinner plate, the same size as the pan on top of the dolmades when cooking them so that they did not unroll. To serve them, I mixed up a lemon-dill yogurt sauce to dip them in (non-fat Greek yogurt, dill, parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic salt and pepper to taste).  

Tyler's dolmades recipe had great flavor, I enjoyed the lemon and dill especially and the slight crunch of the pine nuts was nice.  I ate some warm for lunch and since my friend Natalie wanted to try them, took some with me to the movie we saw tonight.  She liked them a lot and it saved us from gorging on buttered popcorn. I think we must have had the most original movie snack at Slumdog Millionaire! (Excellent movie by the way--go see it if you get a chance)  Although his version of dolmades is not visually my most beautiful Tyler pick, it's a great tasting recipe and since I have half a jar of grapes leaves and they were so good and easy, I would make them again.

You can check out what recipes the other TFF members selected and see how they liked them and find out all the details about how you can join us for Tyler Florence Fridays right here at the TFF site.

If you have a favorite soup, stew, chili or other comfort food dish, join me for Souper Sundays. Leave a comment or send an email with a link to your posting and I'll add you to this Sunday's line up. Even if you didn't make a soup this week, stop by Sunday to see who did and to take a look at the new Souper Sunday logo designed by a special blogger friend that I'll be "unveiling" this Sunday!


  1. It's the Dominicans! They're rolling them too tight!

    Sorry, your pics of rolling the dolmades reminded me of a Seinfeld episode...

    I love Dolmades, the more garlic, lemon and parsley the better. Great pick! I might do them soon too. Yours looks so delish...

  2. They look very professional, in my opinion. Is fennel normally used in dolmades? I've never discerned that taste. A friend was just rhapsodizing about that movie; did you enjoy it?

  3. What a cool pick for TFF. I'd always imagine stuffed grape leaves would be difficult but you make it seem easy! And what a cool movie snack. If I get it written up, I may join you for Souper Sundays with the chili I made this week.

  4. Oooh, I just bookmarked and Stumbled this cool grape leaves recipe. I see that you are exploring Middle Eastern foods for perhaps a Cook the Books project? I am going to try brining up some of my own grape leaves this summer as per a cool Foodycat post about the subject.

  5. What a great choice! I love dolmades, but have never attempted them at home before. This gives me an incentive to try them!

  6. I have always wanted to make these. You really do make it look so easy. They came out great, and they look delicious!

  7. WOW! I would never even attempt to try these. Yours look amazing!!! How fun to eat these at the movies : ) What is souper Sunday?

  8. Although you did a great job with the dolmades, the recipe of Tyler is a pseudodolmades recipe. We don't make dolmades this way in Greece.

  9. Natashya--Great Seinfeld quoting! I remember that episode too. ;-)

    Arlene--I have never seen it before in any dolmades recipe so I am guessing no. I don't think this is a very traditional recipe. The movie was great, well made--I really enjoyed it.

    Nancy--Thanks! It was easier than I thought it would be. Hope you can make Souper Sundays!

    Rachel--I have to start thinking about my CTB recipe too. Brining your own grape leaves is a cool idea--how fun!

    Megan--they were not hard, a little time consuming but the flavor was worth it.

    Reeni--Thanks! If I can do it, I know you can!

    Everyday Cook--thanks! Souper Sunday is where I make and post soups each Sunday and invite others to join me. I left you a comment with more details on your blog.

    Ivy--yes, it wasn't like the dolmades my old roommate's Greek mother made. I guess like many American chef's cooking out of their culture, he modified the traditional recipe and my using brown rice didn't help! ;-). Someday I will attempt the traditional Greek ones!

  10. Didn't expect a Dolmades recipe from the Tyler. The last time I tried making this, I ended up with mush.

  11. Jude--this one turned out to have a good texture (once my rice was cooked enough), I think the pine nuts added a lot to the texture.

  12. Nice recipe!
    Dolmades (sarmale) is in Romania a national food - with grape leaves or cabage ; I put some recipe on my blog -


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