Dolmas are a food that I had never considered making.  I have always enjoyed eating them, but truth be told, most of my experience with ones that come out of a can,  hardly a claim to fame.   So while staring out at some of the many vineyards that surround us, it occurred to me that I should make my own.  It started with picking the grape leaves and preserving them.  Then I set out to find a recipe for reference.  The difficulty I had in locating an acceptable recipe tells me that I am not the only one who is not making these at home.  Well folks, it is time. These dolmas are really not difficult to make and they taste very good.

At our local library, I came across The New Book of Middle Eastern Food, by Claudia Roden, which guided me through the process.  (Libraries are a great source of cookbooks!) I learned that there are both hot and cold dolmas.  Traditionally the hot contain ground beef or lamb and the cold are rice based.  I opted for the rice filling, as I intended to serve them with grilled lamb.

The recipe below is adapted from the one provided by Roden.  I opted for use my preserved grape leaves, add in fresh herbs from the garden instead of dried, and use the lemon solution from the preserved grape leaves.  I also threw in some golden raisins.  All in all the process is pretty simple- parboil the rice, mix it up with fresh herbs and spices, roll them up and cook.  As the dolmas cook, they absorb the lemony, olive oil and water, plump up and become incredibly aromatic.  I love the snap of the grape leaves as I bite into a roll.  This is a very satisfying side dish or appetizer.  Definitely worth the minimal trouble of putting them together.

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