Chef's Quick Tip: Stuffed grape leaves

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NORWALK -

Restaurateur Nikki Glekas, of Nikki Glekas Events, demonstrates how to make stuffed grape leaves or dolmades.

Recipe:
Vine leaves, drained and rinsed
1 cup rice
1 cup olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
2 cups warm water
Juice of 2 lemons
2 tbsps dill, chopped
1/2 a cup parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper

-Start by preparing the vine leaves. You can either use vine leaves sold in jars or fresh. If you use the ones in jar, rinse the vine leaves, remove the stems and leave them in a colander to drain. If using fresh vine leaves, wash them thoroughly, remove the stems and blanch them in boiling hot water. Remove the leaves with a slotted spoon and place them in a colander to cool completely.

-For the filling: Place the rice in a colander and rinse with running water. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat; add 1/3 of the olive oil and the chopped onions. Sauté the onions, until translucent. Add the rice and sauté for 1 more minute. Pour in 2 cups of warm water and half the lemon juice and simmer for about 7 minutes, until the rice absorbs all the water and is parboiled. Add salt and pepper, stir in the herbs, remove from heat, and set aside to cool. This is the filling.

-Layer the bottom of a large pot with some vine leaves, and start rolling the dolmades. Place one vine leaf on a flat surface and add 1 tsp of the filling. Be careful not to overfill the dolmades, as the rice will expand during cooking. Fold the lower section of the leaf over the filling towards the center; bring the two sides in towards the center and roll them up tightly. Place the stuffed vine leaves (fold side down) on the bottom of the pot, and top in layers. Be careful not to leave any gaps between the dolmades to prevent them from cracking open when cooking.

-Drizzle the stuffed vine leaves with the rest of the olive oil and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Place an inverted plate on top to hold them down when cooking and pour in enough water just to cover them. Place the lid on and simmer the dolmades for about 30-40 minutes, until the water has been absorbed and the dolmades remain only with the oil.

-Remove the pot from the heat, remove the lid and plate and let the dolmades cool for at least 30 minutes.

-Serve cold or at room temperature with a squeeze of a lemon.
 

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