Dolmathes, Dolma, or stuffed grape leaves are a common dish in the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East. My main exposure to them has been through Greek restaurants, although there are several variations between countries and cultures. The main variations are the ingredients that accompany the meat in each roll, although meatless is another variation as well. I started off with, what I believe to be, a basic and simple Greek version of paleo stuffed grape leaves served with a paleo egg lemon dipping sauce. Also, they make for great cold leftovers the next day!
- 1 Jar of Grape Leaves (mine was 16 oz and I used about 2/3 of it)
- 6 Tbsp of Olive Oil (separated 2 and 4)
- 1/2 lb ground lamb
- 1/2 Ground grasped beef (or you can use 1lb of either, I like a mix)
- 1/4 cup pine nuts (toasted or raw)
- 3/4 cup onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup green onion, chopped
- 1 Cloves of garlic, minced
- 3 Tbsp fresh dill, chopped
- 1 Tbsp fresh oregano, chopped fine
- 1/2 tsp fresh mint, chopped fine
- 1 Lemon
Egg – Lemon Sauce
- 2 Tbsp Grassfed butter
- 2 Tbsp Arrowroot flour
- 1 tsp of Sea Salt
- 1 1/2 cups of chicken broth
- 1 Lemon
- 4 egg yolks
Heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil (or coconut oil, but I like the olive flavor for this) in a skillet or large pan over medium-medium high heat. Sauté onion and green onion, stirring for about 5 minutes. Season meat with salt and pepper. Add meat and brown it.
Once there is no longer a trace of pink, add in dill, oregano, mint, pine nuts and garlic. Cook and mix everything together. Don’t overcook the meat, but you want the herbs to wilt and cook some. Remove from heat and let cool.
Remove grape leaves from jar, rinse to wash off the brine and then pat dry. Some leave may be broken or too small to use, but one jar should have more than enough. Lay out leaves, shiny side down/fibrous side up, and when meat is cool, scoop about 1 tablespoon of the mixture into the middle of the leaf. Roll like a burrito, fold in the sides and roll tightly up.
Continue to roll out leaves (it’s time consuming and laborious, invite friends to help!) and fill a skillet with the stuffed leaves tightly.
When done rolling, pour 2 Tablespoons and the squeeze a lemon over the stuffed leaves. Add in little water (about a 1/4 cup) and bring up to a boil to cook and soften the leaves. Once boiling, Lower to a simmer and cook until the leaves turn dark, about 20 minutes. Can be served hot or cold.
TO MAKE THE EGG-LEMON SAUCE
Melt butter over medium heat. Remove from burner, sift and mix in the arrowroot flour to make a blonde roux. Stir in the salt, mixture should be nice and smooth. Return to low heat and pour in the broth and juice of one lemon (I actually like mine really lemony, so I use 2). Bring to a boil and remove from heat again, then slowly mix in the 4 egg yolks. Return to low heat and continue stirring to thicken to desired consistency. It should be as thick as a yoghurt or pudding.