It's amazing what you can find in the freezer when defrosting it. Tiny boxes with baby corn, diced onions and chopped parsley, leftover cookie dough and ... what's that? Grape leaves?! How long have they been in there?! Stratis found them at a Turkish store and thought it would be cool to make dolmadakia (little grape leaves rolls with rice stuffing). However, after the first, not very successful attempt there was more than half pack left, so it ended up lying pointless in the freezer, until I discovered it yesterday.
Luckily, a couple of days ago I was browsing through one of my most favorite cooking blogs dedicated to Greek food, owned by Peter Minakis. Few months ago he posted a recipe for a rice-based side dish which really intrigued me when I first read it. It was pretty much a fuss-free version of dolmadakia. The idea was to prepare the stuffing and then mix in the chopped grape leaves. Smaaaaart! You get all the flavor of dolmadakia without having to spend hours in the kitchen rolling them! Great!
I changed a bit the proportions of the ingredients, used slightly different herbs and added a sun dried tomato. I think it was one of those rare times when Stratis was not complaining about the plain rice for side dish :)
1 cup long grain rice, washed
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
2-3 tbsp chives, finely chopped
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup black raisins, washed and soaked in hot water
2 tbsp pine nuts
1/3 cup canned sun dried tomatoes, finely chopped
1 cup canned grape leaves, washed and chopped
2 cups hot chicken stock or water
salt and ground black pepper to taste
1. In a large pan heat the oil and saute the garlic and onions until soft.
2. Stir in the rice and cook together for a couple of minutes.
3. Add the parsley, chives, raisins, pine nuts, sun dried tomatoes, grape leaves, lemon juice and chicken stock, cover with a lid and cook on a medium heat for about 20 minutes or until the rice is soft. Add more water if the rice looks dry.
4. Season with salt, pepper and extra lemon juice and ready!