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3.86 from 14 votes

Greek Stuffed Vine Leaves -Dolmadakia

A unique dish, with a very distinctive flavor. Vine leaves (grape leaves) are stuffed with rice, fresh herbs, and pine nut filling.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time1 hr 10 mins
Course: Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine: Greek
Keyword: dairy-free, gluten-free, healthy
Servings: 45 dolmadakia
Calories: 68kcal


For The Filling:

  • 1 medium-sized red onion minced
  • 3 small spring onions
  • 2 sticks of fresh garlic or 3 garlic cloves
  • 300 grams / 10.5 oz short-grain rice Karolina rice
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons fresh dill finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley finely chopped
  • 30 grams / 1 oz pine nuts
  • 1 lemon zested and juiced

For The Dolmadakia:

  • 450 grams / 15.8 oz vine leaves in brine or about 50 fresh leaves
  • 10 tablespoons virgin olive oil +an extra splash for sauteeing
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • freshly ground pepper and kosher salt
  • red wine vinegar to use for washing and preparing the leaves


Prepare The Leaves:

  • If using grape leaves preserved in brine, place them in a strainer to drain.
  • If using fresh leaves, let them soak in plenty of water along with 1-2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar. Then transfer in a strainer to drain.
  • Fill a cooking pot with plenty of water and bring to a boil. Add 2-3 tablespoons red wine vinegar or white wine instead. Add the leaves to the pot and cook for 2 minutes from the moment the water starts to boil again. Then transfer in a large bowl or pot filled with very cold water and let them cool completely. Transfer leaves in a strainer.
  • NOTE: When you place the leaves in the strainer, add them flat open stacked on top of each other. So they won't tear when you take them out later on.

Make The Filling:

  • Separate the green parts from the spring onions and fresh garlic. Finely chop both but keep them separately. The white parts will be sauteed while the green parts will be added right at the end along with the fresh dill and parsley. This way you add a great boost of flavor and freshness to the filling.
  • Heat a good splash of olive oil in a non-stick pan over high heat. Add the red onion, and cook for a minute until it softens slightly. Reduce heat to medium-high. Add the white parts of the spring onions and fresh garlic (or garlic cloves instead). Season with salt and pepper. Cook until completely soft and caramelized (2-3 minutes).
  • Add the rice and cook for a minute stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Add the 3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar and stir well. Pour in 750 ml of hot water and once it starts to boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer rice until it absorbs all of the water and becomes completely soft and tender.
  • Remove from heat and stir in the pine nuts, parsley, dill, greens parts of spring onions and garlic, as well as the juice of one lemon and the zest of one lemon. Set aside to cool before start rolling the leaves.
  • Lay a few leaves in the bottom of a medium-sized cooking pot in order to cover its bottom.
  • Take a grape leaf and place it on your working surface so its wrong side is facing upwards. Depending on the size of the leaf, add either a full tablespoon, ⅔ of a tablespoon, or half a tablespoon of the filling to the bottom center of the leaf. The filling inside the dolma should be enough to give it shape but without it looking like it's about to explode. After rolling a few you will get the hang of it and adjust the filling accordingly.
    For a leaf that's about 12 cm / 5-inch long, you can add a whole tablespoon. Not too loaded though.
  • Once you placed the filling on the grape leaf, overlap its bottom over the filling and press gently to stick together and form a roll. Then tuck the sides inwards and start rolling towards the other end.
  • Place the dolma in the pot with the seam side down. Continue the rolling until you finished all the leaves and the filling. Make sure you place the dolma in the pot tightly close to each other so they won't unroll while cooking.
  • Add a plate on top of the dolmas to secure them in place. Then pour 500 ml hot water and 10 tablespoons olive oil in the pot. Cook over medium-low heat partly covered for about 45 to 50 minutes from the moment the water starts to simmer inside the pot.
  • Then remove the pot from heat and set it aside to cool for about 30 minutes. Carefully remove the plate and pour in the lemon juice. You can eat them both warm and cold. Leftovers can be stored in a food container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.


Serving: 1dolma | Calories: 68kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1mg | Potassium: 47mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 2773IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 39mg | Iron: 1mg