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.


  1. I always find dolmades in restaurants a bit meh with under-seasoned filling - but these look beautiful.

    I bought some in a jar once - that was a mistake.

  2. These look delicious. How lovely to be able to use the leaves from your garden too.

  3. The vines look lovely,stuffing sounds delicious.

  4. How lovely that you have a vine in your garden! I am a big fan of home-made dolmades (restaurant ones are always a bit bland, I find)

  5. Wow... Just found your lovely blog and it's made me hungry.. Em x

  6. MiMi -Thank you! Yeah, the 'long life' ones are digusting. Like rice stuffed tea bags.

    Kerri - Thank you very much. Feel a bit of a numpty not doing it before :-)

    Northern Snippet - It's our little corner of Greece :-)

    Lzzie - Yes, I agree. They don't seem to pack enough flavour in.

    Emma - How lovely of you :-)

  7. Hmmm thought I commented on this already. Superb work Jan, never eaten a homemade Dolmades, the ones I have eaten have been underwhelming to say the least. Yours look fantastic.

  8. oh that looks so delicious. Never knowingly under catered - Love it!

  9. What a great idea! Its a bit cold up here to even consider growing grapes, but I may consider a vine if I can use the leaves. xxxxx

  10. Aint no grape vines growin' round these parts unfortunately. So I've got me a big jar a leaves sitting in the pantry ready for preparation. Ah well, they won't taste the freshest but I'm gonna stuff 'em anyway!

  11. looks so delicious .. thanks for sharing ..