Dolmades (Stuffed Grape Leaves)
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 small fennel bulb, halved, cored and diced
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
- 1 cup long-grain rice
- 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped dill leaves
- 1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 (8-ounce) jar grape leaves, rinsed and drained
- 2 lemons, juiced
To make the filling, coat a large saute pan with 1/4 cup of the oil and place over medium heat. Add the onion, fennel and lemon zest and stir until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the pine nuts and rice, saute for 2 minutes, stirring to coat. Pour in just 1/2 cup of the chicken stock and lower the heat. Simmer until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente, about 10 minutes. Scrape the parboiled rice mixture into a bowl and add the dill and parsley; season with salt and pepper. Allow to cool. Now on to the grape leaves.
To assemble the dolmades, lay a grape leaf on a work surface, shiny-side down. Put 2 tablespoons of the rice filling near the stem end of the leaf. Fold the stem end over the filling, then fold both sides toward the middle, and roll up into a cigar it should be snug but not overly tight because the rice will swell once it is fully cooked. Squeeze lightly in the palm of your hand to secure the roll. Repeat with remaining grape leaves and filling.
Place the dolmades in a large Dutch oven or wide deep skillet, seam-side down in a single layer. Pour the remaining cup of broth, remaining olive oil, and the lemon juice over the dolmades, the liquid should reach halfway up the rolls, add some water if necessary. Cover the pan and simmer over low heat for 30 to 40 minutes, until the dolmades are tender when pierced with a fork. Serve warm, at room temperature or cool.
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