Dolmadakia, the Greek word for stuffed grape leaves, is one of the most iconic recipes of Greek cuisine and, although there are many varieties, the meatless version is the most common. In the warmer months, try to find and use fresh grape leaves; they are more tender and flavorful than the jarred types. Out of season, jarred leaves are a fine substitute (we prefer the Orlando brand).
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What You Will Need
- 60-70 fresh grape leaves or one 16-oz jar, drained grape leaves, stems removed
- 3⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for serving
- 1 large white onion, diced (2 cups)
- 4 large spring onions or 8 scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced (1 ½ cups)
- 1 1⁄3 cups finely shopped fresh dill (3 oz.)
- 1 2⁄3 cups finely chopped flat-leaf parsley (3 oz.)
- 1 cup finely chopped fresh mint (2 oz.)
- 1 3⁄4 cups (12 ¼ oz.) short grain rice, soaked in cool water for 10 minutes, then drained)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice, plus a few lemon wedges for serving
- Plain Greek yogurt, for serving (optional)
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Fill a large bowl 2⁄3 of the way with ice water. Add the grape leaves to the boiling water and cook until tenderized, 2 minutes. Remove the leaves using a slotted spoon or small strainer and transfer to the ice water. Once cooled, strain the leaves, and pat dry using a clean towel. Set aside.
Set a large skillet over medium heat and add ¼ cup of the oil. Once hot, add the white onion and cook, stirring occasionally until softened, 5 minutes. Add the spring onions, dill, parsley, and mint and continue cooking until the onion is completely soft and somewhat translucent, 3-4 minutes more. Add the rice and 1 teaspoon kosher salt and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add 1 cup water and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper. Set aside until fully cooled.
Line the bottom of a large pot or Dutch oven with 3 layers of grape leaves (these will prevent the dolmadakia from scorching later).
Working one at a time, place the remaining leaves, bottom-sides up with the points facing you. Place a generous tablespoon of filling in the center of each leaf, then fold the left and right sides over the filling. Fold the tip of the leaf over the filling, then roll tightly to make a roughly 2-inch by 1⁄2–inch cigar shape. Place the roll, seam side down, in the lined pot. Continue with the remaining leaves and filling, placing them tightly together in the pot and continuing onto a second layer as necessary.
Place the pot on the stove and add 1 1⁄3 cups boiling water, the lemon juice, and the remaining ½ cup of oil. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then lower the heat to medium-low and cover the pan; cook until the rice is tender and the leaves are very tender, about 45 minutes.
Remove the pot and let cool. Serve the dolmadakia at room temperature or chilled, drizzled with olive oil and alongside lemon wedges for squeezing and Greek yogurt for dipping or topping.