Stuffed Vine Leaves.

Or, as they say in Greece, Koypepia me Klimatofilla, are one of a whole class of stuffed vegetable dishes known collectively as Dolma [from Turkish, meaning a stuffed thing]. These include stuffed cabbage leaves, stuffed egg plant, stuffed courgettes and so forth, and are found throughout the vast area of the former Ottoman Empire, extending from Greece to Armenia, from Egypt to Southern Russia. The Greek version is often accompanied by Avgolemono Sauce, a preparation based on beaten eggs, lemon juice and the pan liquor of the vine leaves. 

Ingredients.

16 fresh grape vine leaves[1].

250g minced pork[2].

1 medium onion, finely chopped.

2 tomatoes, pulped.

Juice and zest of a lemon.

Leaves from 2 sprigs mint, chopped.

Small bunch parsley, chopped.

½ cup cooked rice.

Salt and pepper to taste.

2 tblsp olive oil.

1 egg.

1 tblsp water.

2 tsp lemon juice.

1 cup liquor from the cooking. 

Method.

Select leaves that are about the size of your outstretched hand. Trim any stalks from the leaves, wash them in cold water and place in a bowl, one on top of the other. Pour boiling water over the leaves, count to ten and pour the water off. Set the leaves to one side. Mix all the other ingredients together in a bowl and knead well. Set aside, cover  and allow to rest for 30 minutes.

Place a vine leaf on a flat surface, place a tablespoon of stuffing in the middle, fold in the sides, roll into a tube and tuck the end in to form a parcel. Repeat the process until all the mixture is used up. Place the parcels in a shallow pan, add enough water to just cover, bring to the boil, reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for one hour. Remove from the element, carefully remove the parcels to a plate and keep warm. Pour the liquor through muslin and reserve in a small pan to keep it hot.

To prepare the Avgolemono sauce, beat the egg and the water together until the mixture is light and fluffy, then beat in the lemon juice. When fully emulsified, slowly beat in the hot liquor. Allow to stand for three or four minutes than pour over the parcels and serve[3]

Yields: 16 parcels. 


[1] Bottled/pickled vine leaves are available, but they are nothing like the fresh ones.

[2] Minced lamb or beef are good, too.

[3] 4 parcels make one adult serving, so 16 parcels serves 4 people. If there are only the 2 of you, as there usually is with us, the parcels freeze well. If freezing some, make sure that you put a cup of cooking liquor in the freezer as well so you can make sauce.

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