A la Grecque
Mark Roper

These are delicious made in the spring when the first young leaves appear on the grapevines. Dolmades are best made from the leaves of wine grapes rather than table grapes, as the latter have more pronounced jagged edges and do not wrap up so well into neat little parcels.

In Greek families, dolmades are kept in the fridge for snacks and when friends come to visit they are served as a mezze or an appetiser.


Quantity Ingredient
500g fresh vine leaves
or a jar vine leaves, preserved in brine
450g medium-grain rice, rinsed until the water runs clear
10 spring onions, finely chopped
1/2 cup dill, finely chopped
1/2 cup mint leaves, finely chopped
1 lemon, juiced
315ml extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 litre water
plain yoghurt, to serve


  1. If using fresh vine leaves, blanch them, a few at a time, in a large saucepan of boiling water. Refresh in cold water then lay them flat on a tea towel to dry. Trim off the stalks with sharp scissors. If using preserved leaves, rinse them well to remove the brine. Dry and trim off the stalks, as for the fresh leaves.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the rice, spring onions, herbs, lemon juice and 190 ml of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and mix everything together well.
  3. Lay a vine leaf out on the back of a dinner plate, with the vein side up. Place a spoonful of the rice mixture across the base of the leaf. Roll it over once, fold the sides in and then continue to roll into a neat sausage shape. The dolmades should be about the size of a finger – don’t roll them too tightly or they will burst during the cooking. Repeat until all the rice mixture is used up. You should have a few vine leaves left over.
  4. Lay a few of the remaining vine leaves flat over the base of a large saucepan. Pack the dolmades tightly into the pan then add more layers until all are used. Pour on the water and the remaining 125 ml of olive oil. Lie a few more vine leaves over the dolmades then sit a plate on top and cover the pan with a lid. Cook over a medium heat for 1 hour then remove from the heat and leave to cool in the pan. Drain and serve the dolmades at room temperature with yoghurt.
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