Spring, sun, flowers, herbs and missing Crete!
During my walk through the garden I noticed that the fist wine leaves were almost big enough to be used for one of my favourite Greek dishes: dolmadakias (diminutives of dolmades)! Now in early spring the leaves are very light, tender and even if even still small, I decided to try to make this without meat (lamb or beef
As the same times I had some asparagus on hand, I decided to prepare also the egg-lemons sauce, which is perfect for both preparations!
Usually for this recipe, we use pine nuts, but as did not have such of them just now at home, I decided to uses some previously roasted pumpkin seeds; and WOW! This was real great!
I collected only about 30 leaves about 10-12 cm wide (yes real small, but tender!) and these made 3-4 cm sized dolamadakias.
Note: this dish often served lukewarm and the lemon leaves would taste even better the next day.
- 30 young tender fresh grape leaves (double the filling and the sauce if you have big leaves), washed and stem removed
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion
- ½ cup rice
- 1 cup vegetal broth (or simply the hot water you used to prepare the leaves + salt)
- 1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh dill, copped
- 2 tablespoons, chopped roasted pine nuts (or roasted pumpkin seeds)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 egg
- 1 lemon, juice of
- 1/2 lemon, grated peel of
- 1 cup water (I used drained liquid form the stuffed leaves + the blanching water for the leaves)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Additional lemon juice
- Bring about 1 liter of water to boil and place the leaves in hot water. Drain the leaves after 3 minutes (preserve one cup of water). Set aside and don’t discard the water.
- Fry the onion in the oil just until translucent, add the rice and the broth. Reduce to simmer.
- Add the herbs and seed, cook until the water is adsorbed for about 6-8 minutes, the rice will not be cooked through, but this just fine. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
- Place a small amount of this filling (about 1 teaspoon or more if the leaves are big) on the backside of the leaf near the stem and then close it. For this step, I first fold the left and right side of the leaf toward the center and I roll it up starting from the side of the stem (like the spring rolls).
- Place one tablespoon of olive oil on the bottom of you pot, and then place the stuffed leaves one by one, near each other, opening side down so that they don’t move. If you have more leaves you some leaves to cover the bottom of the pot or (even better) a few thin sliced potatoes (addition to your meal)!
- Try to make two layers of the leaves in the pot (size depends on the leaves and the pot!)
- Grate le lemon zest, set aside; juice the lemon and set this aside as well.
- Place parts of the peel or additional lemon slices over the stuffed leaves, cover with the water (add to the water previously salt to taste), add about 1 third of the lemon juice as well.
- Cover with a small plate the stuffed leaves, so that they don’t move while cooking. Cover with the lid and simmer for about 40 minutes (adding some more water if needed). Drain out the liquid and use it for the sauce.
- If you have rice leftovers, cook them in a small saucepot with water as a risotto until done.
- For the egg-lemon sauce blend together the egg, the lemon juice the lemon zest, the drained liquid from the stuffed leaves, the cornstarch and the olive oil.
- Very slowly heat the sauce in a small saucepot until it thickens (do not let it boil but add more water if needed). Adjust salt and pepper. If you need add more lemon juice to taste.
- Serve the stuffed leaves with this sauce.