Jacqui Challinor's stuffed vine leaves

Vine leaves stuffed with spiced rice.
Vine leaves stuffed with spiced rice. Photo: William Meppem

The Nomad chef shares her recipe for dolmades. Lining the pan with potatoes protects the vine leaves from the direct heat as they cook and provides you with a very tasty bonus snack*.

INGREDIENTS

  • 400ml extra virgin olive oil (I prefer ALTO), plus extra to serve
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 large brown onion, finely diced
  • 1 tbsp sea salt (I prefer Olsson's)
  • 4 fresh bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp ground fennel
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 500g medium-grain rice
  • 2 roma tomatoes, finely diced
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 bunch parsley, leaves picked and roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch mint, leaves picked and roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch dill, leaves picked and roughly chopped
  • 1 large jar vine leaves
  • 2 large sebago potatoes, washed and sliced into 1cm rounds

METHOD

  1. Heat 150ml of the olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat, add the garlic and saute until aromatic, then add the onion and bay leaves. Season with salt and cook until the onions begin to soften and gently colour.
  2. Add the spices and a little bit more olive oil if necessary. Stir constantly at this stage to make sure the spices don't catch on the bottom of the pan.
  3. Reduce the heat while you rinse the rice under cold running water until the water runs clear, drain well.
  4. Once the spices are nicely toasted and aromatic, add the rice and stir well to make sure the rice is evenly coated in the spice mix, then add the tomatoes.
  5. Turn off the heat then add the lemon juice. Once the juice has absorbed into the rice, add the fresh herbs, season with salt and black pepper and mix well.
  6. Remove the vine leaves from the brine and lay them shiny side down. If there are any large stalks, trim them with a small knife.
  7. Spoon a heaped tablespoon of the rice mix onto the centre of the vine leaf and roll into a cigar shape, making sure it's tight but not too tight – it needs to be firm enough to hold its shape while cooking, but allow enough give for the rice to expand.
  8. Repeat this process with the rest of the rice mix.
  9. Line the bottom of a heavy-based saucepan with the sliced potatoes.
  10. Place the vine leaves into the saucepan, working in circular motion starting from the outside and working your way in.The vine leaves should be packed pretty tightly to prevent movement during cooking. Ideally you shouldn't have any gaps at the end but if you do, you can fill this out with some of the potato.
  11. Pour the rest of the olive oil over the vine leaves and add enough cold water to sit about 3cm above them and keep them submerged.
  12. Place a sheet of baking paper over the top of the vine leaves followed by a plate to weigh them down.
  13. Bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat, pop the lid on the pot and cook for about 40 minutes to 1 hour, depending on how many layers you've got.
  14. Once done, remove the pot from the heat and allow it to fully cool before removing the vine leaves. (If you've got the patience, it's best to allow them to sit in the pot overnight to absorb all of the briney marinade.) Drizzle with olive oil to serve.

Makes about 20

*Tip: As for the potatoes at the bottom, heat some oil in a frying pan, throw them in and crisp them up for a tasty chef's snack!

This recipe is from the second episode of Good Food's new TV show, Good Food Kitchenscreening on Channel 9 at 1pm on Saturday, October 16, or catch up on 9Now.