Dolmades, or Dolmathes as they're known natively, refers to a Greek delicacy made with either cabbage or grape vine leaves, stuffed with a delicious herby rice mixture, then shaped into little rolls and boiled until wonderfully tender. You can buy them pre-made in the World Food Aisle of larger supermarkets, or in traditional Greek / Cypriot shops.
I always associate these delicious leaf wraps with sunny tavernas and huge mezze platters beside the sea! They evoke memories of holidays on greek islands, long, lazy lunches and laughter with friends.
I've had a grapevine tucked away in a corner beside the cottage ever since I moved in, but it's never really done much except survived! The Peak District can be cold, even in summer, so this year I've moved the vine to the greenhouse in the hope that I'll have my very own grape vine leaves to use as wraps this year.
There's a flower bed which runs along the side of my vegetable patch, and besides blackcurrant vines and a crown of rhubarb, I've been stuck with what to grow there. Nasturtiums seemed like a good solution. Both beautiful and edible, these pretty plants produce peppery leaves which can be used in salads and bright red and orange edible flowers - also edible. They love poor quality soil, making them easy to grow.
I've always used nasturtium leaves in salads, they have that hot, peppery, rocket flavour. But this week I was wondering what else I could try using them for. Cue ... nasturtium dolmades!
Nasturtium leaves work surprisingly well in place of traditional grape vine leaves. They're easier to use and more pliable dunked in boiling water, I like to dip them in icy water right after so that they keep their bright green colour!
2 tbsp vegan bouillon powder
20 large nasturtium leaves
50g risotto rice (rinsed to remove starch)
1 onion (finely diced)
2 tbsp olive oil
75g mushrooms (pulsed to create a mince texture)
1 tsp dried oregano
Juice of 1 lemon
Handful of kale
2 tbsp fresh parsley
Bowl of cold water + handful of ice
Salt to season
Bring a pan of water to the boil, add a tablespoon of vegan bouillon and boil the risotto rice over a low heat for 7 minutes. Turn the heat off and place a lid on the pan to allow it to keep cooking
Meanwhile add the finely diced onion to a pan along with a tsp of olive oil and pinch of salt. Cook until softened - approx 5 to 7 mins
Add the mushrooms to the pan and the dried oregano. Season with more salt and stir well over a low heat
Finally add the drained rice to the pan and mix everything together. Season with lemon juice and salt
Add the kale, parsley, cashews plus 2 tbsp of olive oil to a food processor along with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Pulse to create a textured, herby pesto. Add this to the pan of mushrooms and rice
Boil the kettle and add 1 litres of boiling water to a bowl. Place the nasturtium leaves in the bowl - I do 5 at a time. You might need to use a slotted wooden spoon to dunk them beneath the water. Leave them in for 30 seconds to 1 minute until wilting, then lift them out with the spoon and dunk into the ice cold water
Carefully remove one leaf at a time, lay on a smooth surface with the smoother part of the leaf facing towards you. Lay a teaspoon or two of the rice mixture along the centre and roll one side of the leaf over it, then tuck in the left and right side and continue rolling. Place in an ovenproof dish and repeat
Pour 500ml of hot water into a jug, add 2 teaspoons of vegan bouillon powder. Stir well and pour over the dolmades. You want it to just about cover them
Cook in the oven at 180C for 30 minutes
Remove and carefully lift from the dish, drizzle with olive oil and fresh lemon juice