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 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.
We tried these simply and delicious dish on Tenerife as we escaped the European winter for a few days.
Originally these peppers had been imported from America and now they are very much appreciated in Spain and all over the world. For this recipe you should use small green peppers (called pimientos de Padrón) each one just one bite!
Traditionally these peppers should be fried, after this some salt (with “sal Maldon“) is added and they are served immediately. In this version we will toss them with little olive oil and bake them in the oven.
These are usually served as appetizer, but as side dish works very well for us.
Pimientos de Padrón al Horno – Oven Baked Peppers from Tenerife
Muhammara has its origins in Lebanon but you will find this in Syria, Turkish and other Levantine cuisines and it is eaten as a dip with bread, as a spread for toast, and as a sauce for kebabs, grilled meats, and fish.
The principal ingredients are usually fresh roasted peppers, grounded roasted walnuts, breadcrumbs, and olive oil. As condiment garlic or onion or shallots, salt, lemon juice and pomegranate molasses. As spice I added cumin and paprika, but other spices as coriander, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, cinnamon, mustard and mint are other options.
If you don’t get the pomegranate molasses you can do it yourself bringing to boil ¼ cup of pomegranate juice with one teaspoon sugar and reduce it until thickened; alternative a mix of honey and lemon or honey and little balsamic vinegar.
5 red peppers, best if you have the long shaped ones (alternative 2-3 red bell peppers
3/4 cup walnuts
6 tablespoon bread crumbs
1 scallion, grated
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika, optional if you cannot broil the pepper on the BBQ
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Pepper to taste
1 teaspoon salt
If you have the possibility to broil the peppers on the BBQ or open fire, that’s the best method and the spread will turn super the best. If not preheat the oven to 250°C, then turn the grill on. Broil the peppers turning them every 2-4 minutes until the skin is well browned and the peppers soft.
Remove the peppers form the oven and place them in bowl. Cover immediately and let rest for about 15 minutes.
In the meantime roast lightly the walnuts. Chop when cooled down enough to be handled.
Remove skin, seed and stem of the peppers under current water. Drain and chop finely.
Combine chopped red peppers with chopped walnuts as well as all the other listed ingredients. Some people process this with the food processor but I prefer to do it by hand keep the consistence as well as structure.
Create a romantic mood and make a surprise to your partner serving this delicious beverage! For Valentine day you may add sliced strawberries instead of grapes. “One for you…one for me” and you will see how much she/he will appreciate this idea.
You can also prepare a big bowl of this for company and keep it in the fridge until your guests are arrive.
This recipe had been inspired by the grapes and apples from the garden and by huge basil quantity I still have. The white wine was already in the in the fridge and in the kitchen the secret ingredient (Vermouth) was ready to use.
Vermouth in the kitchen? Yes, I estimate that I use at least 80% of it for cooking (the same with the brandy). Try it with cheese preparation or with Chinese food; you will see….
Roasted red and yellow peppers are great versatile ingredients that we really don’t want to miss.
It’s very easy to roast peppers and you can prepare a lot of different salads and sauces with them.
You can prepare more in advance, store tightly closed in the fridge or freeze them for until you will need them for spreads, salads, add them to tomatoes sauces add to pies fillings and so on.
The first time we had those simply with olive oil and chopped garlic. Delicious!
Now I will give you as suggestion one of my favorite recipes and make with some bread a pretty and healthy summer meal.
4 red bell peppers (or yellow ones)
200 g feta, cubed (7 ounces)
2-3 tablespoons preserved capers
1/2 cup sliced olives, seeded
1 clove garlic, chopped (optional)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup fresh marjoram leaves, chopped (alternatively dried marjoram, thyme or oregano)
Pepper to taste
Place the whole peppers on a baking try and place in the oven under the broiler until the surface of the upper skin turns wrinkled and black. Depending on the oven this takes about 5 minutes. Turn peppers on the other side and broil again. Repeat until all sides look roasted and (or) the skin is completely wrinkled.
Remove the pan from the oven and immediately place the pepper in a bowl. Cover (eventually using a dish). You can also place the peppers in a zip bag or simply cover them with on the tray. Set aside for 15 minutes, or until the peppers are cool enough to handle.
Remove and discard the stem from each pepper over a bowl or a dish and preserve the liquid. Discard seeds, remove skin, cut into strips and place the peppers in a bowl along with the juices.
Combine with all the other ingredients, toss and refrigerate/marinate for about 2 hours.
Refrigerated keeps for at least 3 days.
Serve with fresh bread, pita, over pasta, with grilled meat or as you like.