Stuffed vine leaves

Lindsey Bareham

The authentic dolmades rarely contain much meat and the best are meltingly soft and juicy, with a subtle but moreish herby flavour






  • 40 fresh or preserved vine leaves (Cypressa or Attis)
  • 250g/9oz long-grain rice
  • 1 finely chopped medium onion
  • 1 peeled and chopped tomato
  • 3 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 250g/9oz minced lamb
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large lemon
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 150ml/¼ pint water


I recommend the traditional Cretan way of serving this famous Greek mezze – warm with a generous dollop of strained Greek yoghurt or tzatziki.

Soak fresh vine leaves in boiling water for 5 minutes and preserved ones for 20 minutes.

Wash the rice, cover with boiling water and leave to soak for 15 minutes.

Drain, tip into a bowl and mix thoroughly with the onion, tomato, parsley, oregano and lamb.

Peel, chop, then crush the garlic with a little salt to make a juicy paste.

Add garlic, juice from half the lemon and several grinds of black pepper to the bowl. Mix thoroughly. Use any extra-big or broken leaves to line a large, lidded frying pan or similar.

On a work surface, lay out several vine leaves, their points at the top and the smooth sides down. Place a scoop of filling in the centre, firmly fold the bottom of the leaf to cover the filling, fold the sides to the middle then carry on rolling upwards.

Pack the dolmades closely together, seam underneath, in the pan as you go.

Squeeze the remaining ½ lemon over the top, splash over the olive oil and water.

Cover snugly with a double fold of foil, lay a plate over the top to compress the dolmades, cover with the lid and cook over a low heat for 1 hour.

Remove the plate and serve hot, warm or cold.

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