Dolmades for a Virtual Holiday Party

December 21, 2010 · 25 comments

in appetizers and snacks,dairy-free,greek,healthy,rice and grains,vegetarian

One of my favorite food bloggers, Annie of Annie’s Eats, reached out to a few of us fellow bloggers about having a virtual holiday party.   When you meet so many great people online that share your love of food, it really is a tragedy that you’re too far away to invite most of them to share in your real-life holiday get togethers, isn’t it?  So, of course I was on board with a virtual eating extravaganza!  The six us (Annie, Kelsey, Nikki, Josie, Tara, and myself) decided to host our own little shindig via our blogs.

Two of us tackled appetizers, two made cocktails, and two made desserts.  I decided on an appetizer for my contribution.  No way I was touching dessert in the presence of some dessert goddesses! :)

I went with a Greek appetizer of dolmades, which are stuffed grape leaves.  They can be stuffed with meat  or made vegetarian, with just rice and herbs, which is what I did here.  If you want, you can make these with avgolelmono sauce (similar to my favorite meal ever, lahanodolmades), or just serve them as-is.  The great thing about serving these as appetizers is that they’re great at any temperature.  In fact, I just eat the leftovers straight from the fridge.  I used to not be the biggest fan of stuffed grape leaves, but I’ve since turned over a new leaf (ba dum ching!) and now I really enjoy them.

Nikki from Pennies on a Platter decided to share her baked fontina.  Hello! Who can resist ooey, gooey, bubbling cheese, especially when paired with some nice crusty bread?

Annie from Annie Eats made these absolutely gorgeous candy cane macarons.  I’m such a sucker for anything minty during the holidays.  Oh, who am I kidding, I couldn’t resist these any time of year.

Josie from Pink Parsley shared these awesome looking creme puffs loaded with raspberry pastry cream. I’m a bit of a creme puff fanatic and I’m pretty sure that if we were together for real, there would be none of these left after I polished them off.

Of course we needed some boozy beverages to wash down our delicious eats.

Tara from Smells Like Home brought these lovely cranberry-lime bellinis.  I looove the combination of cranberry and lime.  I also love booze.  Like, a lot.  Tara even made a virgin version of these to share.

And finally, Kelsey at Apple a Day made these gorgeous sparkling pepper berry cocktails. So festive! I  have no doubt that with the unique peppery twist of these cocktails they are really complex and delicious.

I had a lot of fun throwing this virtual get together with such a great group of bloggers.  I hope  you visit all of their blogs and check out these (and other) fabulous recipes! And, of course, I wish you some wonderful holiday parties, virtual or otherwise, this time of year.


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Makes about 25

6-8 oz. jarred grape leaves (about 25 leaves)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 cup rice
2/3 cup broth + additional for cooking dolmades
1 lemon
3 Tbsp. chopped dill
2 Tbsp. chopped parsley
avgolemono sauce (optional)
Additional lemon wedges for serving

Cook the grape leaves in a large pot of boiling water for 5 or 6 minutes, or until pliable.  Drain and cut off any tough stems.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan.  Add the onion and cook until translucent.  Add the rice and stir until slightly toasted and coated in the oil.  Stir in 2/3 cup vegetable or chicken broth and the juice of half a lemon.  Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Simmer until the broth has been absorbed by the rice.  Off the heat, stir in the dill and parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place a grape leaf on your work surface, dull side up, with the stem at the bottom.  Spoon about 1 Tbsp. of the rice mixture at the bottom of a grape leaf.   Fold up the bottom of the leaf, fold in each side, and then roll up, cigar style.  Place in the bottom of a large Dutch oven.  Continue doing this with the remaining grape leaves, placing the rolled dolmades in a single layer on the bottom of the Dutch oven, if possible, layering in concentric circles if necessary.

Add enough broth to come up about 2/3 of the way of the dolmades.*  Squeeze in the juice from the other half of the lemon.  Then, slice the lemon and place the lemon slices on top of the dolmades.  Put an inverted plate over the dolmades (to keep them from coming up and  unraveling).  Bring the mixture to a boil, cover the Dutch oven, and then reduce the heat to low.  Simmer for about 30 minutes, until the dolmades are tender and the rice is cooked.

Make the avgolemono sauce, if using.

*If you plan on making avgolemono sauce, you will want to add enough liquid to come just above the top of the dolmades.

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Tara @ Smells Like Home December 21, 2010 at 4:59 am

These dolmades look so awesome, Elly! As soon as I figure out where to buy grape leaves (maybe WF?), I’m going to give it a shot making them at home. It was great to “party” with you!


Eleni December 21, 2010 at 7:51 am

Hi Elly, I’ve been reading your blog for a long time and I really enjoy your recipes. Today you’ve got me with the dolmades! One of my all time favourite food. Keep those great recipes coming.


melissa December 21, 2010 at 8:02 am

Everything looks wonderful! Great job ladies!


Kelsey December 21, 2010 at 8:33 am

I’m so glad you made these for our virtual party, Elly! I’ve never worked with grape leaves before and I can’t wait to give them a shot after reading this post. Here’s to a merry and blessed Christmas for you and your family!


Josie December 21, 2010 at 8:34 am

I would have been disappointed if you hadn’t brought a Greek specialty, Elly! These look really yummy!!


Courtney December 21, 2010 at 8:55 am

I’ve never tried dolmades before, but these look fantastic! I will definitely have to try making some soon. I love that they can be served at any temperature; that’s always good for entertaining. Happy holidays, Elly! :)


innasinventions December 21, 2010 at 9:25 am

Hi Elly, I’m so glad you posted a recipe for stuffed grape leaves! Growing up, my mom used to make these and I’ve always wanted to try to make stuffed grape leaves myself. Thanks for the great post!


Banana Wonder December 21, 2010 at 9:34 am

Bravo on your dolmades! I’ve always been too intimated by the thought of rolling them to attempt. What a drool worthy virtual party.


Pennies on a Platter December 21, 2010 at 9:47 am

Thanks for your contribution, Elly! It looks amazing and now I’m dying to try out grape leaves!


Cate December 21, 2010 at 9:50 am

Dolmades are one of my very favorite things ever! I’ve only made my own once and it didn’t end very well, so I’m going to try again with your recipe


Peter December 21, 2010 at 12:32 pm

Love the dolmades and the Greek Christmas table just screams for them!


Peter G @ Souvlaki For The Soul December 21, 2010 at 5:20 pm

Lovely dishes on offer here…Dolmades are truly one of the best dishes ever! All the best for the holidays Elly!


Ben December 23, 2010 at 9:21 am

Aren’t these virtual gatherings so much fun? I’ll try to attend more next year. Maybe we could even have a Greek/Mexican party, hehe. Amazing appetizer and the rest of the dishes look so great, too. Just imagine what you girls would be able to make if you got together for real :)

Happy Holidays!


Annie December 23, 2010 at 11:05 am

Thanks for being part of this virtual party Elly! I loved you contribution and am excited to give it a try myself. This was such fun, let’s do it again next year!


Juliana December 23, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Dolmades, haven’t had these for a while…yours look perfectly done…love the virtual gathering…so much fun!


Maria December 23, 2010 at 10:03 pm

I’m crashing the virtual holiday party … albeit a little late! Dolmades are a great contribution. Happy holidays Elly!


Chrisanthe April 7, 2012 at 9:42 am

These were fantastic, Elly! I usually make rice and meat dolmathes, but tried some rice-stuffed ones recently and thought I’d recreate them at home. Your recipe was far superior to the ones I bought at that over-priced boutique restaurant! Brava!
I paired the dolmathes with some homemade hummus and crusty french bread. Heaven!


elly April 7, 2012 at 9:48 am

Glad you liked them, Chrisanthe!


Louisa November 20, 2013 at 5:16 pm

These look great Elly. We have always made the ground beef version at my house, but I’ll have to try the vegetarian option!


Carol March 5, 2014 at 4:06 pm

Love making and eating grape leaves. My parents were Lebanese and we were raised on this type of food. We make ours with ground pork. You don’t have to boil the leaves to (tender) them up. Just rinse them and lay them out and sprinkle with a little meat tenderizer. We have our own grape vines that my grand-father brought with him from Lebanon. They don’t bear fruit they are just for the leaves.


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