I thought hand making dolmades was going to be really difficult and I was stupid for trying cause the ones from the can are so good anyway. BUT these were actually easy as and soft, tangy and delicious - without that kind of weird chemically can-y taste we all know and love. These would be perfect for a bring-a-plate situation, or to just have in the fridge for snacking.
Makes about 20 dolmades
250g short/medium grain rice
Half a cup of olives
One small onion, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
A quarter of a preserved lemon, finely chopped
1/2 cup continental parsley, finely chopped
About 20 - 30 vine leaves (some may rip. I got mine off a grape vine at my mums house, but if there aren't any around you you can buy them in packets at a lot of delis/speciality grocers)
Salt & Pepper
Put the rice on to boil, and in the meantime fry the onion and garlic in the olive oil. When they're getting soft and translucent, add the preserved lemon and the olives. When the rice is done, add it to the vegetables and fry until well combined. Add the parsley, and taste it - if it's bland it might need salt, pepper, or a bit more olive oil. It's probably good to leave it in the fridge for a couple of hours - or make it the night before - before you wrap the dolmades, because the rice will clump together better.
To prepare the dolmate leaves for wrapping, place 5-10 on top of each other and roll into a cylinder shape. Tie with a piece of string, then repeat with the rest of the leaves. Then dip them in boiling waters for a second or two, and pull them straight out. This will make them soft and easy to roll.
The actual rolling bit is hard to describe but really easy to do. You can kind of see how I've done it in the picture above, but if this was too confusing there's plenty of videos on Youtube. Lay a leaf down veiny side up, then spoon about a tablespoon of rice in the middle. Roll the top of the leaf over the filling, then tuck in the side bits of the leaf (like a burrito) and roll the rest up.
To cook the dolmades, line a baking dish with spare leaves (lettuce also works) and lay the rolled dolmades on the top. Put some slices of lemon, butter, and cracked pepper over the top. Pour a splash of boiling water in the bottom of the dish (just so it's about 1-2cm deep) and bake at 180 degrees for ten minutes.
I prefer my dolmades warm, so served mine pretty much straight away.