I am proud to present this recipe as it is a classic, summer, mediterranean dish that embodies what I love about cooking.
It is essentially this instinctual, adjust-as-you-go way of cooking associated mainly with traditional home cooking and slowly perfected through repetition & learning from your mistakes. The approach of the modern chef however has become an exact science that in a way, takes all the fun out of it. I’m not knocking it, I just prefer the other way.
I know that analyzing the exact quantities and cooking temperatures, or knowing the 1/10/100 rule for pasta boiling will eventually yield better and more consistent results, but I miss the flow I get into whilst cooking when I do that.
It’s funny how my grandmother boils pasta using that exact 1/10/100 ratio but doesn’t even know it… I measured once out of curiosity without her knowing to see if she was close…
For instance, standardizing this recipe that she cooks to perfection every time would call for exactly the same rice & vine leaves to be used each & every time it’s made. Part of the fun though is knowing how to adjust to what ingredients the farmers market had to offer last Thursday & maybe a different type of rice that will require more or less water.
Therein lies the emotional part of cooking in my opinion. Trying to gauge how the ingredients you are using are going to react and therefore adjusting your methods slightly brings you closer to nature, and if you happen to grow your own vegetables as well then you are part of a very special process that really soothes & feeds the soul.
– 400gr carlina short grain rice, rinsed
– 500gr grape vine leaves (usually 1kg with the brine it comes in)
– 85gr spring onions chopped finely
– 1 white onion chopped finely
– 1 1/2 cup olive oil
– 8 1/3 cup water
– zest of 1 lemon, juice of 4
– 30gr chopped dill
– 20g parsley, chopped
– 4 tsp salt
– 2 tsp pepper
– and finally a stone…yes a stone of about 1 kg
1. Carefully remove the vine leaves (if not using fresh) from their brine and blanch in plenty of boiling water for 2 minutes. Allow to cool.
2. Cook the onions in a frying pan with 1/2 cup olive oil for about 5 minutes on medium heat. Remove from heat and add rice, another 1/2 cup oil, 1/3 cup water , dill, lemon zest, salt and pepper and juice of 1 lemon. Mix well.
3. Choose the nice big vine leaves that are not torn and separate them. Use the rest to line the bottom of a wide pot. Stuff each leaf with about 2 tsp of rice and wrap as seen in the photo. Careful not to wrap too tight as the rice will expand during cooking and brake the leafs but also not too loose.(Your second attempt on this recipe will be far superior to the first so do a test run)
4. Arrange them one by one in the pot in such a way so they don’t unwrap and add the remaining oil, water and lemon juice. Place a plate that almost covers all the stuffed leafs and place the stone over it so they stay tight while cooking. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer and cook for at least an hour. Cooking time will mainly depend on the rice used and so will water absorption so try one at the one hour mark and adjust accordingly. Almost all water must be absorbed at the end of the cooking so don’t overcompensate.
5. Served preferably at room temperature with more lemon and some Greek style yogurt.
……..for a full history of our recipes, check out our archives. For the more sensitive tummies, check out our gluten-free archives….. and if you’re just interesting in something pretty, check out our designed page.