Dolmas (Stuffed Grape Leaves)

From "May All be Fed," by John Robbins
Makes 6 to 8 servings

Dolmas, stuffed grape leaves, are a classic Middle Eastern dish. Here they are stuffed with rice and walnuts and topped with a tangy lemon sauce

2 cups water

1 cup long-grain brown rice

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup currants

1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

1 tsp. dried mint or 1 tbsp. fresh

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

2 16-ounce jars of grape leaves

1 1/2 cups vegetable stock, vegetable bouillon, or water

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 organic lemon, thinly sliced

3 bay leaves

In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil over high heat, add the rice, cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the rice is tender and the water is absorbed, 30 to 40 minutes
. (Or preferably, prepare rice using soaking/fermentation technique described here: )

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, until softened, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.

Add the cooked rice to the onion mixture. Add the currants, walnuts, mint, parsley, oregano, salt, and pepper and stir to mix.

Remove the grape leaves from the jar, being careful not to tear them. Choose 32 of the largest leaves for stuffing. Reserve the smaller or any damaged leaves separately. Put them in a colander, rinse in warm water to remove the salt, and gently separate the leaves. Let the leaves drain and pat them dry with paper towels or dish towels.

Preheat the oven to 350f. Lightly oil a 9- by 13-inch baking dish. Line the bottom of the baking dish with some of the rinsed and dried smaller or damaged leaves.

Lay a large leaf flat and put about 1 tbsp. of the rice filling in the middle of the leaf. Fold over the sides and roll up into a cylinder, starting at the bottom. Put the filled leaf seam side down in the prepared baking dish. Repeat until the filling is used. Cover the dolmas with the remaining smaller leaves.

In a small bowl, combine the stock and lemon juice and stir together. Pour over the dolmas. Arrange the lemon slices and bay leaves on top. Cover with parchment paper or waxed paper and bake until the liquid is absorbed, 30 to 40 minutes.