Is it sophisticated or just pretentious to call something by its natural, but foreign name? I’m not sure but I do know a dolma by any other name is still delicious. I was introduced to these delectable morsels at a friends going-away dinner in northwest DC and I was hooked from the start. My face lights up in joy when I see these at a new restaurant, preparing my mouth for as many as I can cram in there. So good…..

Grape Leaves Stuffing

Making these suckers, I must admit, is a bit involved. First you have to get the grape leaves out of the jar (which, in itself, was a task), separate them, rinse and dry them…. then, after preparing the stuffing you have to hand wrap each one! In the future, this shall be a two day task for me; one day preparing, another cooking. Or maybe, one day doing everything but rolling and cooking….. I don’t know, I’ll figure it out. I must say this is a nice thing to just drop and not worry about. Given the cook time, though, this is more a weekend and workday meal.

Step One Step Two Step Three Step Four

Taking the grape leaves out of the jar can be a bit tricky. It takes a bit of force, more than you might expect, to pull them out. Be “carefully forceful” and you should be fine. Have a little faith that a won’t rip. If you have a salad spinner I recommend using it to rinse and dry your leaves. Be sure to unroll, unfold and separate them all or you’ll have a few pockets of vinegar lurking. If you don’t plan to expect to use them all (say, for example, you are a single male who writes a food blog) then save the brine the store remaining leaves for another time.

Dolmades Ready To Go Dolmades

Vegetarian Stuffed Grape Leaves, Slow Cooker Style
2 tablespoons oil
1 yellow onion; chopped
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 table spoons fresh parsley; roughly chopped
3/4 cup green lentils; rinsed and drained
3/4 basmati rice
1 jar of grape leaves
Several cups of stock (or water)

Rinse your grape leaves and pat dry. Set aside. In a large pan, cook the onion under medium heat with the oil until softened; approximately 5 minutes. Add the spices, lemon juice and cook for another minute then add the parsley, lentils rice and 2 cups of stock (or water). Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes then set aside to cool.

Place grape leaves vein-side up and start placing heaping tablespoons (1 – 1 1/2 tablespoons depending on the size of the leaf) at the bottom in a slight horizontal line. Fold the sides up together, then roll up while tucking in the sides. You want it to be a little tight so it doesn’t explode while cooking. Place snugly together in your slow cooker, layering if necessary. Cover with stock (or water) until just covered and cook for 4-6 hours. Serve and enjoy.

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