We have four grapevines. Dear Butchie foisted them on me…”Here, plant these…but don’t give me any! I hate fresh fruit!!!” Butch is special. His loving energy permeated the dead looking sticks which miraculously turned into Jumanji style monsters. We had to cut them back so the grapes would set and grow bigger than nibs. We had tons of tender spring green gorgeous looking grape leaves, and although the chickens got most of them, I had to just try…
I looked up dolmades on Google Search. I read several posts on how to pick, clean, and prepare the leaves then I read several recipes. I thought I could do it much easier…and I knew I could improve on the stuffing…here’s what I did…
PICKING THE LEAVES
It’s like Goldilocks and the Three Bears…pick the leaves that are just right…new fresh leaves that have that shiny tacky fresh growth smell and feel to them…it’s obvious. If they are really big, look dark green and not appealing, those are not the ones you want.
Snip off the stem as close to the leaf as possible.
Wash them well.
Stack them up and soak them in cool water while preparing the filling.
Boil a pot of water to blanch them in later before filling.
No salt, no brine, no raw filling, no fuss and no muss!
MAKE THE FILLING
While the leaves are soaking in the cool water, make a delicious filling…no sticky rice and fatty ground beef for my gorgeous Dolmades…
1 lb. ground buffalo
½ while onion minced
1 c cooked quinoa
1 c prepared tomato sauce (I happened to have some great homemade sauce leftover…)
1 T Dill
2 T Lemon juice
Brown the buffalo and onion in a sauté pan until cooked through. Add the quinoa, sauce, dill, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste and mix together. Remove from heat. Drain grape leaves and rinse again. Place in a colander inside a bigger bowl. Pour a pot of scalding water over the leaves and blanch for a minute or so till they soften a bit. New leaves soften easily. One by one, remove from the hot water, fill with a tablespoon of filling, fold and roll them up. They will be approximately the size of cocktail hot dogs! Put them into the sauté pan where you cooked the filling. Add water to about half way up the pan. Add 1 T. lemon juice, 1 t. dill and 1 t. olive oil to the water. Put the squeezed half lemon into the water. Cover the pan and simmer for 15 minutes or until most of the liquid is evaporated.
Now these are dolmades worth making and eating…