Vine leaves are perfect for rolling the Middle Eastern stuffed vine leaf delicacy, dolmades. They're popular in Greece, Egypt, Turkey and Iran. However, if you don't live in one of these countries where grape vines grow in profusion, these are the next best thing!
What are vine leaves?
Vine leaves are the leaves of grape vines. They're commonly harvested from wild vines, rather than the plants farmed for winemaking. This is because wild vine leaves are generally more tender and have more flavour.
How do I use vine leaves?
Vine leaves are very easy to use, as you can take a few leaves out to use at a time and keep the rest for another day. Soak the leaves in warm water until soft and pliable, and use to make dolmas.
Dolmas, dolmades, or stuffed grape leaves are perhaps the most recognisable dish made with vine leaves. They were first served in the Persian court of King Khusrow II in the seventh century.
Each Middle Eastern cuisine has its own variation. Iranians use minced lamb and dried fruit, while Egyptian dolmas are generally stuffed with rice, tomato sauce and aubergine. Greek dolmades are similar to the Egyptian ones, with rice, tomatoes and peppers. In Turkey they call them sarma, and stuff them with ground lamb or beef, rice and lots of herbs.
Substitute soaked vine leaves for other green leaves in recipes - they work well in fish pie, and are great when wrapped around fish, quail or pigeon breast before roasting.
For softer leaves, simmer in salted water and cool before use.
How do I know which vine leaves to choose?
Vine leaves like these are ideal if you only occasionally want to make dolmades. The resealable pack will keep in the fridge for a few weeks.
Vine leaves in brine are also available. These are great if you want to start cooking right away, as the leaves are already nice and soft. Simply rinse off the brine and you're ready to go!
Small yellow and white spores are produced naturally by the vine leaves and are not an additional ingredient. Ingredients: grape leaves salinity 6%.
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