Vegetarian Dolmades

Christmas 2010-219

For the dolmades:
4 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cups diced baby bella mushrooms
1/2 cup finely chopped carrots
2 cups white rice
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
2 cups water
2 tsp ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste

1 (8-ounce) jar grape leaves, rinsed and drained
3 cups of water to blanch the leaves

For the dressing:
1 cup yogurt
2 tbsp fresh chopped dill
3 cloves garlic 
salt and black pepper to taste

1. In a large saute pan add 4 tbsp olive oil and place over medium heat. Add the onion and stir until golden. Add chopped mushrooms and saute for 3 more minutes, then add the carrots.

2. Add the white rice and stir well. When the rice looks glossy add the walnuts, pour 2 cups of water and lower the heat. Simmer until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente, about 10 minutes. Then season with salt, pepper and cumin. 
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3. In a large pot simmer water and blanch the grape leaves 5 minutes until pliable. Drain then trim the stems from the leaves. To assemble the dolmades lay a grape leaf on a work surface with the shiny-side down.
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4.Put a tablespoon or two of the filling ( depending on the size of the leaves) on the bottom side of the leaf, near the stem then fold the sides of the leaf toward the middle. Roll up into a cigar shape – it should be snug but not overly tight because the rice will swell once it is fully cooked.    
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5. On the bottom of a large pot place whole grape leaves to cover it completely. Then arrange the dolmades in the pot and cover with a plate with appropriate size to keep the dolmades down. 

6. Add water so the liquid should reach halfway up the rolls. Cover the pan and simmer over low heat for 30 to 40 minutes, until the dolmades are tender when pierced with a fork.

* You can bake them or cook the dolmades also in a dutch oven, steam cooker, slow cooker or rice cooker
7. Combine the ingredients for the dressing. Plate the dolmades when still warm and cover with the dressing. Serve them immediately. 

* You can garnish with a piece of dill, fresh cucumbers, walnuts if you like. 
** You can make a non-vegetarian version of the dolmades by adding 1/2 pound ground meat to the rice.