The first time I heard about this version of stuffed cabbage I was literally sitting next to the fireplace in the home where my father grew up and where my 95-year-old Aunt Mary still lived. Until she passed away a few years ago, she was a great source of knowledge about old Ikarian dishes. She told me how when she was a girl only well-to-do families could afford rice. On Ikaria, in its place, people used dried corn, which they grew and, among other things, dried in the sun, reserving the amber-like little kernels for use in dishes that went hand in hand with the cold, damp months of winter. Cabbage was and still is something of a staple crop in Ikarian gardens and collards, in the same family, are a winter staple in the longevity diet of Ikarians. To find some of the artisinal Greek products you'll need to make this, visit my online shop here
, where you'll discover a host of lovingly curated Greek ingredients.
Variation: Collard-Green Dolmades with Avgolemono. Follow the recipe above, but substitute short-grain rice for the corn. To make the avgolemono, whisk together 2 large egg yolks and the juice of 1 lemon until frothy. Very slowly add two ladlefuls of hot pot juices from the stuffed, cooked leaves, whisking vigorously all the while. Pour the egg-lemon mixture back into the pot, tilt so that it is evenly distributed and serve immediately. (Do not cover the pot after pouring in the avgolemono unless you want an omelet!)
* You can find dried corn kernels in specialty markets. They are popular among the Amish.
Adapted from Ikaria: Lessons on Food, Life and Longevity from the Greek Island Where People Forget to Die