I forgot vine leaves in my October In Season post! And it was a bad omission, because everything you need for making dolmades is now in season – young, tender vine leaves, the last of the fresh in-shell macadamias, lots of herbs, and still lots of lemons.
I am very very pleased that we have a local grower growing biodynamic rain-fed rice. Rice has been an ethical quandary for me for a while – should I buy Australian rice irrigated from the Murray Darling, or Indonesian rice with lots of food miles? I’ve solved the problem by moving away from rice altogether. It’s nice to be able to buy ethically produced rice again.
These are the perfect party plate. They are best cold (though in our house a good percentage don’t make it that far). If you have a garden, most of the ingredients will come out of it.
Saute 2 chopped onions in olive oil
Rinse ½ cup of rice and add to the onions. Saute for a few minutes until the rice just starts to colour.
Add a good handful of nuts or seeds. My favourite is chopped macadamia nuts, but you could also use cashews, sunflower seeds, or pine nuts.
Add a good handful of sultanas and some salt and pepper.
Add 1¼ cups of boiling water and simmer very gently for around 10 minutes until the water is absorbed. The rice will be partially but not fully cooked.
Add a couple of dessertspoons of lemon juice and ¾ cup of chopped fresh herbs. My favourite combination is lemon thyme, parsley, mint, oregano, dill, and chives, but I haven’t yet found a combination that doesn’t work in this!
Wilt 30 medium vine leaves in boiling water. Save any large or broken leaves to line your pan and use the rest to roll up the filling. There’s a bit of a knack to this, but once you have it, it goes quite quickly.
Arrange the filled leaves in layers in your leaf-lined pan.
Pour over 1¼ cups of hot water, ½ cup of lemon juice, and ¼ cup of olive oil.
Lay a plate on top to weigh down the dolmades. Cover and simmer on the stove top or bake in a medium oven for around 40 minutes, being careful not to boil dry. My favourite way to cook them is in a pyrex baking tray in the oven. That way, I can see the liquid level and it is easier to monitor them.
If possible, cool before eating.