With this recipe, I'm heading back to the very first Kitchen Nomad box ever to be produced, which was full of products from Greece. Although I was very impressed by the exotic and authentic-looking jar of vine leaves, I just haven't been able to bring myself to use them up until now because I was convinced I wouldn't like them. It's been lurking at the back of the cupboard ever since but yesterday, I decided to bite the bullet - Dolmades were definitely on the menu !
The recipe calls for three products from the box - olive oil, cassia bark (which is like cinnamon) and vine leaves.
First I made the stuffing, with minced beef, tomatoes, mint, onions, garlic, risotto rice and spices - I added some za'atar from the Lebanese box too.
Meanwhile, I opened the jar of vine leaves. They're packed in in rolls so you get loads in each jar. I only used one roll to make this lot so there are still about 3/4 of the jar left.
The girls got in on the action, unrolling and drying the leaves. Juliette made me laugh, because she said : "Are they real leaves? Are you going to eat them? But you're not a giraffe !"
Following the instructions on the recipe card, it was quite easy to roll the filling up in the leaves - although some were easier than others, depending on their shape.
I was very impressed by the girls making the comment "oh, it's just like making Saigon summer rolls" - spoken like a true mini-globe cooker !
After all the fiddly rolling, I was a bit concerned that the cooking method described on the recipe cards sounded a bit complicated, not to mention long. I had a sneaky idea for a shortcut and, after a quick google search, I found some real Greek foodies who said that they microwave their dolmades so that was what I did, sprinkling a little water on top of the leaves then zapping them for one minute. It worked perfectly.
So, what did we think? Well, when I first put them in my mouth and chewed, I pulled a face because I didn't like the flavour or texture of the leaves, but as you continue chewing, it all mixes in with the flavours of the filling and actually tastes quite nice. The leaves have a vaguely spinach-like flavour and I ate several of them. I think they'd also work well with other fillings - goat's cheese and chorizo maybe or feta and cumin seeds? While the younger Madhouse Mini-testers quite predictably didn't want to try them, Sophie did and she loved them, as did Madhouse Daddy Mike.
I'm joining in with the World Cup recipe challenge over on the Cooking Around The World blog
Linked up to the Green-themed Friday Foodie round-up at http://www.romanianmum.com/
Disclosure : I received a discounted Kitchen Nomad subscription in order to keep you up to date with their latest boxes.
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