Stuffed Grape Leaves (Dolmades)
This meze of stuffed grape leaves is served with a cucumber–yogurt sauce.
Enlarge Image Credit: Penny De Los Santos
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and grated
1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more
1 cup Greek yogurt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
5 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
3 tbsp. minced fennel
1 clove garlic, minced
1⁄2 medium red onion, minced
1⁄2 cup basmati rice
1⁄2 tsp. ground cumin
1⁄4 cup minced fresh dill
1⁄4 cup minced fresh parsley
3⁄4 tsp. dried mint
34 grape leaves in brine, drained
1⁄4 cup fresh lemon juice
1. Put cucumber in a strainer and sprinkle with 1⁄2 tsp. salt; toss; let sit 30 minutes. Squeeze out liquid; mix with yogurt in a bowl. Season sauce with salt and pepper; chill.
2. Heat 2 tbsp. oil in a 12" skillet over medium-high heat. Add fennel, garlic, and onions; cook until soft, 3–4 minutes. Add rice; toast for 3 minutes. Add cumin and 1 1⁄2 cups water; season with salt and pepper. Boil; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until rice has absorbed water, 12–15 minutes. Stir in 1 tbsp. oil along with dill, parsley, and mint. Let cool slightly.
3. Coat bottom of a 3-qt. saucepan with remaining oil and 3 tbsp. water; cover with 4 grape leaves. Set remaining grape leaves on a work surface, vein side up. Working with one leaf at a time, flatten leaf and place about 1 1⁄2 tsp. rice mixture in center. Fold bottom of leaf over filling, fold in sides, and roll into tight cylinder. Transfer, seam side down, to pot. Repeat. Add lemon juice and 3⁄4 cup water to pot. Cover grape leaves with a small plate to keep submerged; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until rice filling is tender, 15–20 minutes. Serve hot or cold with the yogurt sauce.
MAKES ABOUT 30