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Greek Yoghurt Pies

This is a real Spring recipe.  You need 24 very young and fresh and tender vine leaves.  These cook fast, so  they don’t work with older tough vine leaves.  We’re not really in grape growing country here.  Some years we are lucky and get a good crop.  Many years it rains right around when the grapes are ripening and they all split.  Or the brush turkeys get them.  But the grape vines pay their way anyhow in leaves for cooking, and for shade and cooling.  Our pergola of vines is on the north western side of the house.  All winter it is bare and the winter sun streams in.  All summer it is a dense green evaporative air conditioning system.  If there’s grapes, that’s just a bonus.

The Recipe:

Makes 12 little pies.  Two or three make a good serve for lunch or dinner, or they go well in lunch boxes. I made these in large (Texan) muffin tins, but you could also adapt the recipe for one large pie in a sponge cake tin.

Steam 24 young vine leaves for a few minutes while you make the filling. I just put them in a pot with a tight fitting lid and a tiny bit of water. How long depends on the variety and age of the leaves.  Too long and they’ll disintegrate, too short and they’ll be tough.  These ones took just 3 or 4 minutes steaming to be soft and tender.

In a food processor, blend together:

  • 2 cups of Greek yoghurt
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup fine semolina

Pulse in:

  • ½ cup packed of fresh mint leaves
  • ½ cup packed dill
  • 2 spring onions, whites and greens
  • a good pinch salt
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

If you have preserved lemon, you can leave out the salt and lemon juice and zest, and substitute a couple of pieces of preserved lemon.
You want the greens chopped fairly fine but not blended.

Oil 12 large muffin cups generously with olive oil.  Line each cup with two vine leaves, stem end at the bottom, overlapping, and with enough leaf out the top to fold over.  To get the nice star pattern when you turn them out, you need to put them top side of the leaf up.  Like this:

vine leaves

Pour the yoghurt mix in and fold the leaf over the top to make a nice little parcel.  Brush the top with olive oil and bake them in a medium oven for around 20 minutes till they are set. Turn out.

They are good hot for lunch or dinner with a salad and pita bread, or cold in a lunch box or picnic.


{ 1 comment }

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.

The Recipe:

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.