Stuffed grape leaves

  • Jar of grape leaves in brine 
  •  ½ lb ground beef
  •  ¼ lb ground lamb
  •  ½ onion, medium dice
  •  1/3 cup white rice, uncooked
  •  2 tablespoons butter
  •  1 teaspoon tomato paste
  •  1/8 cup warm water
  •  1 teaspoon salt
  •  Black pepper
  •  Cayenne pepper 
  •  Dried basil
  •  Savory



  1. Carefully remove the grape leaves from the jar, unfold, and rinse thoroughly. Set aside.
  2. In a bowl, combine beef, lamb, rice, butter, tomato paste and salt. Add pinches of black pepper, cayenne, basil, and savory. The last ingredient to be added is the warm water.
  3. Mix the mixture with your hands until combined, then let the mixture rest for a few minutes before rolling in the grape leaves.
  4. While the mixture is resting, line the bottom of a pan with grape leaves, to protect the stuffed grape leaves while cooking.
  5. Carefully wrap about one tablespoon of stuffing with one grape leaf. Form a cylinder shape with the stuffing at the base of the grape leaf. Fold in the bottom and sides and carefully wrap into a roll. Place in the pan on top of the grape-leaf-lining, with the point of the leaf down.
  6. Once you’ve used all your stuffing (this recipe makes about 20 dolmas), and filled the pan with a single layer of grape leaves, add enough water to cover them, along with about half a teaspoon of oil.
  7. Cook on medium heat for about 20 minutes, or until the rice is tender. 
  8. While they are cooking, make the cucumber yogurt sauce. Note: Sauce can be served atop the stuffed grape leaves, or on the side.
  9. After about 20 minutes on the stove, you may have to sacrifice one to test if it’s done. The liquid should have boiled away and you will be left with shiny dolmas that are deeper in color than the uncooked versions.
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