Stuffed Grape Leaves: Yia Yia's Dolmathes

Every Greek YiaYia has her own special version of Dolmathes.  Some use meat, others wouldn't think of it.  Some use dill and mint, others swear by tomato and egg.  There are almost as many versions as there are Greek grandmothers.  Of course, I'm partial to my family's recipe - a light, meatless little mouthful with lots of lemon and herbs.  Spring is the best time for making these little bite-sized, herby bundles, especially if you're lucky enough to have access to fresh grape leaves.  Leaves are best when young and tender, and freshly plucked from the vine.  A cold, crisp glass of Shelburne Vineyard Cayuga White hits the spot with these lemony bites.

Dolmathes

24 freshly picked grape leaves, rinsed (the jarred variety work well too) 1/2 cup rice 1/2 onion, finely chopped 1/4 cup parsley, chopped 2 Tbsp mint, chopped Fresh lemon 1/3 cup olive oil Salt and Pepper

Start with a basket of freshly picked, young grape leaves.  (or a jar of preserved leaves)

Rinse leaves, then blanch in boiling water for about 3 minutes. (they will lose their bright green color)  Refresh under cold water.

Lay flat and use a pairing knife to cut out the stem and tough vein.  Prep all leaves and set aside.

Prepare filling.  Mix uncooked rice, finely chopped onion, parsley, mint and olive oil in a bowl.  Season with salt and pepper. Place teaspoon filling on each grape leaf.  (Don't be tempted to add too much or it will burst when cooked).  Roll into a little cigar.

Finish rolling all the dolmathes. Arrange artfully and admire your work.

Put dolmathes into the bottom of a heavy pot.  Pack tightly in single or multi-layers.  Squeeze juice of fresh lemon on top, add olive oil and about 1 cup water.  Place a heavy plate or pot directly on top of the bundles- this holds them together as they cook.  Place pot on the stove and bring to a simmer.  Simmer, with plate on top for approx. 30 minutes, or until rice is tender.  Eat warm, cold or room temp.  Yasou!

Lisa