BEST Greek Vegetarian Stuffed Grape Leaves (Dolmades Yialantzi)
These are one of the BEST Greek vegetarian stuffed grape leaves (dolmades yialantzi) recipes you’ll ever make. They’re packed with fresh herbs! The onions are the secret, though! You need a lot of onions in all Greek recipes for rice-stuffed vegetable dishes and grape leaves because they lend an underlying sweetness that makes these dishes delicious.
- 16- ounce jar grape leaves packed in brine
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 6 large red onions finely chopped (about 6 cups)
- 1 cup finely chopped scallions
- 1 cup short-grain rice such as sushi rice or Greek Carolina
- 4 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 1 ½ cups water or vegetable stock
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves
- 1 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1/2 cup finely chopped dill
- 1 cup dark seedless raisins
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
- Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- Sea salt to taste
- Strained juice of 2 lemons
- Pepper to taste
- Greek yogurt or tzatziki for serving
Carefully remove the leaves from the jar and rinse very well under cold water. Bring a pot of water to a boil and blanch the grape leaves in batches for 1 – 2 minutes at a time, to soften them. Remove with a slotted spoon and place immediately in a large bowl of ice water.
Heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a large heavy skillet and add the onions and scallions. Toss to coat with oil. Cook, covered, over low heat for about 8 to 10 minutes, until wilted and lightly colored, opening the lid a couple of times to stir and check on them.
Add the rice to the skillet and stir for 1-2 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for another minutes or so. Add the water and cook until it’s almost absorbed. Add the wine and cook until all the liquid is absorbed. Remove the rice from the heat and stir in the lemon zest and herbs. Season with salt and pepper, and toss with 2 more tablespoons of raw olive oil. Add the raisins and pine nuts, if using.
Separate the ripped grape leaves from the rest. Oil the bottom of a large wide pot and spread a few of the torn leaves on top, just enough to cover the surface. To expedite the laborious task of rolling up the grape leaves, do it assembly line style: Place, vein-side up, as many leaves as will fit on the kitchen table or counter, snip off the tough stem, and place approximately 1 scant tablespoon (less for the smaller ones) of filling on the bottom center of each leaf. Fold in the sides and roll up from the base, tucking in the sides a little as you go.
Place the stuffed grape leaves snugly next to one another, seam-side down, inside your pan of choice. It’s totally ok to make more than one layer of rolled grape leaves – you can stack them if necessary inside the pot. Drizzle with a little olive oil, the lemon juice, and just enough water to cover. Place a plate inside the pot over the grape leaves as a weight to keep them from opening during cooking. Cover the pot with its lid and simmer the grape leaves over low heat for about 35 - 40 minutes, until the leaves are tender and the rice cooked. Remove, cool slightly. Serve the stuffed grape leaves with Greek yogurt or tzatziki on the side.