Stuffed Grape Leaves with Goat Milk Yogurt and Mint Sauce

Mint is commonly used in Greek cuisine and although it isn’t the featured ingredient in this recipe, the stuffed grape leaves just wouldn’t be the same without it.  We also added it to the goat milk yogurt sauce.  Yum!

Stuffed grape leaves or dolmades do require a bit of prep work but they are well worth the effort.  Most recipes call for uncooked long grain white rice but using cooked brown rice is a healthier alternative and results in a more consistent dish, in that you know that all of the rice in the grape leaves are cooked.

The photographs and original recipe were contributed by Ray Toves, a Sarasota-based chef and food photographer. 

Preparation Time: 1 1/2 to 2 hours

Cooking Time:  10 minutes for ground meat like beef, chicken, turkey, pork or lamb (but you can replace the meat with more meaty vegetables like eggplant or mushrooms; 45 minutes to 1 hour for brown rice; 15 minutes to steam the stuffed grape leaves

Servings:  35-40 stuffed grape leaves; 1 1/4 cups goat milk yogurt and mint sauce

Ingredients:

  • Dolmades:
    • 40-45 brined grape leaves
    • 8 oz ground meat (lamb was used in this recipe)
    • 1 cup brown, short or long grain rice
    • Juice of two lemons
    • 1 tbsp grated lemon zest
    • 1/2 cup chopped organic mint leaves
    • 1/4 cup chopped parsley leaves
    • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
    • 3 cloves of garlic minced (or more if you prefer)
    • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, canola, or vegetable oil
    • Kosher salt to taste
    • Black pepper to taste
  • Goat milk yogurt and organic mint sauce:
    • 1 cup goat milk yogurt
    • 1/2 cup chopped organic mint leaves
    • Kosher salt to taste
    • Black pepper to taste (optional)

miz-for-lamb-dolmades-with-mint-0086

Preparation:

  • Goat milk yogurt and organic mint sauce:
    • Wash and spin dry 1/2 cup of organic mint leaves.
    • Fine chop 1/2 cup of mint leaves.
    • Add to into goat milk yogurt, season with kosher salt to taste; store in an airtight container in the fridge until you’re ready to use.
    • Can be made a few days in advance.
  • Dolmades:
    • Cook brown rice per producer’s instructions; keep warm until ready to prepare the stuffing mixture.
    • Saute ground lamb in oil until just cooked or slightly browned, season with kosher salt and black pepper to taste; set aside (with drippings).
    • Toast pine nuts (if not already toasted/roasted); set aside.
    • Wash and spin dry parsley, separate leaves from stems (discard stems), rough chop; set aside.
    • Wash and spin dry organic mint, separate leaves from stems (discard stems), rough chop; set aside.
    • Mince garlic; set aside.
    • Grate lemon peel; set aside.
    • Immerse brined grape leaves in a bowl of cold water to rinse off excess salt brine; drain, cut stems if present; set aside.

miz-for-lamb-dolmades-with-mint-24

Cooking:

  • Making the stuffed grape leaves:
    • Cool cooked brown rice to where it isn’t hot to the touch, place into large mixing bowl.
    • Add cooked ground lamb (with drippings), mint, parsley, pine nuts, and garlic; mix well, season to taste with kosher salt and black pepper.
    • Lay out single grape leaf shiny side down with the tip of the leaf away from you on clean cutting board (see above photo).
      • The size of the leaves in most grape leaf products are not consistent; some are larger than others, so you may need to double up on some leaves.
      • Also, if you have leaves that have holes in them set aside a couple of the smallest leaves that you tear pieces off to then place the torn off part over the hole on the leaf you are going to roll.
    • Place 1 Tbsp of the mixture just above the stem (see above photo).
    • Fold the left side of leaf over the mixture, then fold the right side of the leaf.
    • Starting from the bottom roll the gently but tightly.
    • Place, seam side down in a stainless steel pot (see above photo) until bottom is full.
    • Place additional stuffed grape leaves on the first layer.
    • Add one cup of water and lemon juice.
    • Place the pot on stove top burner set to medium-high heat; bring to a simmer.
    • Cook for 15 minutes; periodically check to make sure that water in the bottom of the pot has not completely evaporated; add 1/4 of water at a time if necessary.
    • The stuffed grape leaves are ready.  Carefully remove them from the pot and place on a warm serving tray if to be eaten immediately.
    • If you are cooking them ahead of a dinner or event allow the hot stuffed grape leaves to cool then place them in an airtight container in the fridge until you’re ready to enjoy them.  They may also be eaten cold.

Enjoy!

 

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