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Vegan Greek/Middle Eastern Recipes
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From: Asha Dornfest

Last night I had a craving for greek food.
Here is the result...dolmas.
For a long time I was intimidated by the seemingly complicated nature of the dish, but once I made it, I realized that not only is it extremely easy (albeit time-consuming), the taste is worth the effort.

If you have never had dolmas, they are a treat.
The grape leaves, sold in cans pickled in salt water, have a strong, sour flavor that contrasts with the sweet currants.
The traditional version is soaked in olive oil - this has none.

They are great for pot-lucks, picnics, and appetizers.
I served them as part of a light dinner (dolmas, big greek salad, hummus and pita bread).

  • 1 bottle grape leaves
    (I'm in California, and they are available at the grocery store here)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 cup rice (brown or white)
  • 3-4 tablespoons double concentrate tomato paste (to taste)
    (I use the kind in the tube. You can sub. regular tomato paste, but you may need to add more.
    This is a personal preference - I love the tomato flavor)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed (or more to taste)
  • generous handful of currants or raisins
  • handful chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup water or vegie stock (as necessary)
  • salt and pepper
  • A lemon or two
(Optional: sub. chopped dried apricots for currants, include fresh mint, add walnuts or pine nuts [adds fat],
add garlic if you like it, add chopped tomatoes, add some garbanzo or small white beans, etc. etc.

Place drained grape leaves in a large bowl, and cover in boiling water until ready to use.

Saute onions in stock or water for 2-3 minutes.
Add rice and saute another 2-3 minutes.
Add 1/2 c. water or stock during cooking to reduce sticking.
Add tomato paste, parsley, dill, salt and pepper and currants, stir.
Remove from heat, add a squeeze of lemon juice, set aside to cool enough to handle.
Rice will be uncooked - this is OK. It will cook inside the dolmas.

Using a flat surface, lay out a grape leaf, stem toward you.
Pinch off tough stem and discard.
Place a heaping teaspoon of filling on leaf in a horizontal strip.
This looks like a small amount, but it will expand during cooking.
Wrap leaf into a roll by folding sides over first, then rolling length of the leaf.
Do not roll too tightly, as the rice will expand.
Place rolls side by side in a large, heavy pot.
You may stack them on top of each other as necessary.

Once finished (you should have 50 or so dolmas), place a heatproof plate on top of the dolmas and press lightly.
This will keep them compacted as they cook.
Cover with water, and cook on low heat for 30 minutes, or until rice is tender.
I used white rice, I would assume brown takes about 40-45 minutes.
Check periodically to make sure the dolmas stay covered with water.

When cool enough to handle, remove carefully from the pot, and place on a single layer to cool completely (you can cool them in the frig).
Squeeze fresh lemon juice over the dolmas (be generous).

Serve cold, arranged in a pile on a platter.
Squeeze lemon juice again before serving so they are nice and shiny.

Serves 4-5 as part of dinner (I can easilly eat 10 at a sitting). Serves 8-10 as an appetizer.