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Stuffed Vine Leaves (Dolmas)

These caterpillar looking rolls are made from fresh grape vine leaves stuffed with a tomato, onion and rice mixture and are a traditional cold mezze dish in Turkey. If the vine leaves aren't in season they can be bought from most Turkish supermarkets but just ensure if they have been preserved in salt water that are washed well and drained before using.

Makes 100


120 vine leaves/cabbage leaves

6 large white onions, diced

650g white rice, rinsed in cold water and drained

50g Pine nuts

2 cans chopped tomatoes

1 tbsp tomato puree

Salt, pepper

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp oregano

2 tsp dried mint

3 large lemons, zested and juiced

100g parsley, chopped


1. Wash the vine leaves gently in hot water and leave to drain. If using cabbage leaves, blanch them in boiling water to soften slightly before draining.

2. Heat a good lug of olive oil in a deep saucepan and fry the chopped onions over a medium heat to soften, about 10 minutes.

3. Add the pine nuts and the rice to the onions and fry, stirring all together for a few minutes before adding the chopped tomatoes.

4. Add a good seasoning of salt and pepper, cinnamon, dried mint and juice of 2 lemons and zest. Stir all together to combine. The rice will still be hard but starting to form a thick sticky consistency.

5. Line the bottom of a deep saucepan with vine leaves, overlapping so they cover the base of the pan. Lay out one leaf, with the rough veiny side facing up and smooth side down. Spoon 1 tbsp. of the rice mixture into the centre of each leaf, fold in the sides and bottom and roll up the leaf to make the wraps. Transfer the rolls to the lined saucepan and arrange in layers filling up the pan as you go. When all the mix is used up, pour over the juice of 1 lemon, a drizzle of olive oil and pinch of salt. Cover the top with a final layer of vine leaves to stop them from drying out.

6. Pour over boiling water slowly, giving it time to drain through to the bottom. Pour enough to just cover the top layer of vine leaves. Place the saucepan covered over a low heat, bringing the water to a simmer and cook for an hour until the vine leaves have absorbed the water and have softened.

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