Eva, my Palestinian friend, showed me how to make stuffed
grape leaves the down-home-authentic way. These are a lot of work, but
if you can corral a friend or two to join in, then it goes pretty fast and is lots of fun.
What You Need:
2 bunches curly or flat leaf parsley
2 medium onions, peeled
3-4 medium-large tomatoes
3 1/2 teaspoons allspice
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon salt plus a little more
1-2 medium potatoes
2 1/3 cups long grain white rice, uncooked
1/2 cup oil plus a little more
2 lemons, juiced
1 large jar Orlando brand grape leaves (56 leaf count)
What You Do:
Pull the tops off of the parsley in chunks, leaving the stems behind. Chop them coarsely and wash in a strainer over the sink. Using your hands, squeeze the parsley firmly to remove all the excess moisture. Put into a large bowl.
Chop the onions into a medium-sized dice. Add to the bowl of parsley.
Wash two of the tomatoes well and chop them in the same way as the onions. Add to the parsley and onions.
Into the bowl of vegetables add the allspice, cinnamon, 1 tablespoon of salt, uncooked rice and 1/2 cup of oil. Mix well and set aside.
Peel and slice the potato into 1/2 inch pieces. Slice the other tomato(s) into 1/2 inch disks too.
Line the bottom of a huge pot with the potato slices. Make sure the entire bottom is covered with potato without overlapping the slices. Lay the tomato on top of the potato in the same way. Set the pot aside.
Open the grape leaves into a bowl in the sink. Wash well while separating out the leaves. Remove the stems with scissors or your fingers and rinse again. Gently mash the leaves down to remove the excess water.
Bring the leaves and bowl of stuff over to a table. Set out a plate for all dolma-rollers. Onto each plate place one grape leaf, vein-side up. It should be oriented so that the place that used to have the stem on it is facing the dolma-roller.
Place a small amount of the rice mixture on section "A" of the leaf. Roll the bottom of the leaf over the rice filling mixture.
Fold the sides towards the middle.
Roll up, tucking stray pieces of side in as you go.
Squeeze the finished roll firmly in your fist to release extra liquid.
Lay the finished dolma on top of the tomato in the big pot. Repeat with more, layering them carefully in rows and then on top of each other.
When all the leaves have been stuffed and placed in the pot, generously salt the top layer of dolmas. Add just enough water to barely cover the dolmas and 1 tablespoon of oil.
Carefully invert a plate on the top to weigh the rolls down. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce heat to simmer. Cook slowly for an hour.
Remove the plate and add the lemon juice. Return the plate and continue to simmer for another 15-25 minutes.
Pull out a dolma and taste for doneness. The leaf should be very tender and the rice should be fully cooked, not al dente. If not, check for doneness in another 10-15 minutes.
Drain off any excess water and serve immediately or serve chilled.