>Recipe for ‘Zeytinyagli Dolma’ (Stuffed Grape Leaves)

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>I should probably start by defining the word ‘Dolma’ – It can be used to mean filled or stuffing or filling.
In Turkish Cuisine, we have two types of ‘Dolma’ – meat filled (served hot as an entrée or an appetizer) and with olive oil (served cold as an appetizer).  ‘Dolma’ can be made by stuffing peppers, zucchini, tomatoes, grape leaves, cabbage leaves, chard  or any other vegetable that can be filled.  According to the vegetable, some of the stuffing ingredients might change.  When I am cooking for my family the meat filled ‘Dolma’, I use 1/2 lb ground meat (beef or lamb or a combination) 1-2 chopped onions, 1 cup of rice (washed and drained), 2 Tbspn Tomatoe Paste, salt, pepper and Nar Eksisi (Pomegranate Sauce).  All the ingredients are mixed together and then the vegetable is filled or wrapped.  It is all laid in a pot and a plate is closed over it, 1-2 cups of water is added and it is cooked on high until it boils, then left to simmer for 1 hour.

‘Zeytinyagli Dolma’ – (Stuffed Grape Leaves)

 Filling

3/4 cup olive oil
10-12 onions finely chopped
1 cup rice (washed and drained)
50gr pine nuts
50gr currants
4-5 lumps of sugar
1 Tbspn salt
1 Tbspn black pepper
1 Tbspn  dried mint
1 Tbspn  allspice
1 1/2 cup warm water

Sauté the onions in olive oil, on low for 15 minutes.  Add the rice and sauté for another 15 minutes over low heat.  Add the pine nuts and currants and sauté for 5 more minutes.  Add the spices, mix.  Add the water and put the heat on medium; when it begins to boil (in about 5 minutes) turn the heat down for 10 minutes.  Turn the heat off and let it cool for at least 2 hours.

This filling can be used to fill green or red peppers or wrap in grape leaves or boiled cabbage leaves or zucchini flowers (as seen above).  Put a plate above the ‘Dolma’ and pour 1 1/2 cups of water over it, close the lid and cook for about 1 hour after it boils.   I’ve heard my husband’s maternal grandmother had a saying that I use as a rule of thumb “You should cook with the food”; these measurements work for me but you should be on hand to check to see if there is enough water in the ‘Dolma’ and maybe add another 1/2 cup warm water if needed.

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