Romanian Stuffed Grape Leaves-Dolmades – meat and rice stuffed grape leaves, a popular recipe in many parts of the world. Delicious and easy to make.
Today I made stuffed grape leaves. Out of the world, if you ask me! I don’t make them very often as I should, and I do not know why, because we really like them.
If you never had them before, you are here for a treat. I am sure you heard of them before. The English world knows them as “Dolmades.”
The stuffed grape leaves with meat, rice, or other ingredients can be found in many cuisines worldwide. They are delicious and not very difficult to make.
The recipe is great for Easter, and it also feeds a crowd. However, we make them once in a while and eat them few days in a row, as we love leftovers.
I usually buy my grape leaves in a jar from the specialty stores around Minneapolis, or I order them online. ( I wish to have my own grapevines in the backyard, but I don’t). Usually, the jars look like in this Amazon link below:
There are many brands on the market and all of them are good.
When you take them out of the jar, they look like this:
I usually give them a rinse under cold water, drain them and remove the stems. You need a smooth leaf surface to work with.
This what I usually do: grab the stem and fold the leaf in half.
I cut the stem and any tough part around it.
This is how it looks like when it is ready for filling.
Bam! Now you have a beautiful leaf to work with. Not too bad, right? Repeat the operation until you finish all the leaves you need.
Note: For a pound of meat, I used only half of the leaves in the jar, but if you cook for a crowd and want to use them all, double the amount of meat filling. If you have leftover leaves, put them in a ziplock bag and freeze them for later use.
In a large bowl, mix the ingredients for the filling together. You will need minced meat (pork or beef, a mixture of both), chopped onions, rice, spices.
Come join my Facebook page for more recipes and ideas in the kitchen!
I used this clay pot originally from Bulgaria, but any deep pot would do the same job. Make sure it works for the oven, and it has a cover. You can also use a crockpot.
Before you place the rolls into the cooking pot, spread 3-4 leaves on the bottom of it, the rolls are not going to stick to the bottom when you cook them.
Take a leaf and spread it flat on your work surface. Place a teaspoon of meat mixture on the leaf but the other side of the stem.
Fold the end of the leaf over the meat once
Then fold over the left and right side of the leaf.
Continue to fold the leaf pushing the edges inside so the meat doesn’t come out during cooking.
It should look like this one:
Place the roll on the bottom of the pot and continue wrapping the stuffed grape leaves until you finish the meat mixture.
Add the juice of one lemon into your pot. Add the water to cover the rolls.
Sprinkle dry mint over the stuffed grape leaves and add some salt and pepper to the water.
If you do not have a pot like mine with a lid, use aluminum foil to cover it. You can also use a crockpot for cooking them.
Put the pot in the oven for and hour and half at 350F or until the rolls are tender and the rice is cooked inside.
The juice of the lemon together with the mint will make this dish a special delicate one. It goes perfectly with a glass of white light wine.
NOTE: If you want to make these stuffed grape leaves vegetarian/vegan, you can find the detailed recipe at the bottom of the post.
How to make the vegetarian stuffed grape leaves:
The best way and the most delicious vegetarian/vegan stuffed grape leaves are with mushrooms and rice. You can also replace the mushrooms with raisins and walnuts.
For the filling, use a food processor to grind the mushrooms. Mix the mushrooms with the dry thyme.
Chop the onion. In a pan, heat some oil and toss the chopped onion until translucent. Mix the rice with cooked onion and mushrooms.
Taste for salt and pepper. Then follow the same steps as above for the recipe that uses meat.
Instead of making a sauce with lemon juice and mint, use tomato paste and water to boil the stuffed grape leaves. Enjoy!
If you liked this recipe, you might be also interested in Stuffed cabbage rolls.
- 1 jar (aprox. 16 ounces) grape leaves
- 16 ounces ground pork or beef(or a combination of both)
- 1/4 cup rice
- 1 diced onion
- salt and pepper to your taste
- 1 tablespoon dried mint
- 1 teaspoon dried dill or 1 tablespoon fresh dill
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 lemon(we will use the juice)
- 2 cups water or enough to cover the stuffed grape leaves in the pot
- 1 jar grape leaves
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Take the leaves out of the jar and rinse them.
- Note: For a pound of meat, I used only half of the leaves in the jar but if you cook for a crowd and want to use them all, then double the amount of meat, rice, and everything else.
- If you have leftover leaves, put them in a ziplock bag and freeze them for later use.
- Prepare the leaves by removing the stems so you can have a smooth leaf surface to work with.
- Prepare the meat.
- In a bowl, put all the ingredients, meat, onions, rice, spices. Mix everything well.
- Take a leaf and spread it flat on your work surface.
- Place a teaspoon of meat mixture on the leaf but the other side of the stem.
- Fold the end of the leaf over the meat once.
- Then fold over the left and right sides of the leaf.
- Continue to fold the leaf-like cigar pushing the edges inside, so the meat doesn't come out.
- Before you start putting the rolls into your cooking pot, spread 3-4 leaves on the bottom of it.
- This will prevent the rolls from sticking to the bottom.
- Start adding the rolls.
- Continue wrapping the stuffed grape leaves until you finish the meat mixture.
- Add the juice of one lemon into your pot.
- Add the water to cover the rolls.
- Sprinkle the dry mint over the stuffed grape leaves and add some salt and pepper to the water.
- Use aluminum foil to cover the pot.
- Put the pot in the oven for 1.5 hours at 350F or until the rolls are tender and the rice is cooked inside.
- The juice of the lemon together with the mint will make this dish a special delicate one.
- Note: It goes perfectly with a glass of light white wine.
- How to make vegetarian/vegan stuffed grape leaves:
- Use a food processor to grind the mushrooms.
- Mix the mushrooms with dry thyme.
- Chop the onion.
- Heat the oil in a skillet and saute the chopped onion until translucent.
- Mix the rice with cooked onion and mushrooms.
- Taste for salt and pepper.
- Follow the same steps as above for the recipe that uses meat.
- Instead of making a sauce with lemon juice and mint, use tomato paste and water to boil the stuffed grape leaves.
- Serve with sour cream on top.
For the vegetarian/vegan version of the filling:
8 ounces mushrooms
1/4 cup rice
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons oil
1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 182Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 51mgSodium: 93mgCarbohydrates: 4gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 15g