When Life Gives You Lamb, Make Dolmades!

I took a break from posting, although I’ve done some fun stuff over the last couple of months, like lecturing on Food History at La Cordon Bleu and judging the Kid’s Cooking Camp Competition at Cook’s Warehouse earlier this month.

Stuffed Grape Leaves ready to go into a pan of homemade turkey broth.
Stuffed Grape Leaves ready to go into a pan of homemade turkey broth.

And then, I found some wonderful local lamb on sale, and knew I had to make some of my favorite finger food, dolmades.  These seasoned lamb and rice stuffed grape leaves are so often disappointing when eaten off of an olive bar or even ordered in some of my favorite Greek restaurants, so I generally wait until I can make them to enjoy them.


I didn’t really use a recipe, but worked from memory and feel.  With the addition of the fruits and nuts and fresh herbs they are good eaten as-is, or you can create a dipping sauce like a cucumber and yogurt tzaziki.  I only had mint here, but other fresh herbs like rosemary, basil, oregano, and flat leaf parsley are all good too.

1 ½  pounds ground lamb
1 ½ cups uncooked white basmati rice
8 dried apricots, diced
¼ cup raisins
¼ cup pine nuts
2 tbsp. chopped fresh mint
1 tbsp. sea salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 jar grape leaves (25-30 leaves)
1 quart homemade turkey stock

Mix everything together to form the stuffing, then wrap 1-2 tbsp of raw stuffing in individual grape leaves. Arrange in the bottom of a wide, shallow pan, with enough broth to cover them. Cover and cook on medium heat for 45 minutes to an hour, until rice is fully cooked.
Serve hot or cold, plain or with dipping sauce.

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