Wednesday, 4 August 2010

From pergola to plate

We have had a vine in our garden for about 10 years. It branches out under our pergola, making a lovely shady spot to eat outside when the temperature rises.

Being lovers of Greek food, we have often made dolmades (stuffed vine leaves) but never using the leaves from our vine. Stupid I know. I can only think that I was always under the misapprehension that they had to be brined first, but no, they can be used fresh.

I got Tiny to pick quite a few (as he doesn't need to get the step ladders out) making sure he avoided the ones that been, ahem, 'blessed' by the birds.

These were thoroughly washed and boiled for 10 minutes until they were soft, but still whole.

I then made a stuffing of ground lamb, arborio rice, spring onions, chopped dill, mint and plenty of salt and pepper.

When all of the leaves were stuffed and rolled up, I added a little chicken stock and put them in the oven for about 50 minutes.

As I'd only used 250g of the lamb and I'd bought half a kilo, with the rest I made little koftas with chunks of feta.

We ate the vine leaves with home made tzatziki and rice-stuffed courgettes and tomatoes and a salad. Oh and the kofta, some bread and a few potatoes (well, my motto is 'never knowingly under-catered').

Even if I say so myself, they were delicious. The contrast of the warm, soft, well flavoured, wrapped lamb, dipped into the cold garlicky tzatziki was bliss.