Spring greens, aka collard greens, are everywhere now, and both Tesco and Asda are selling huge bags for 50 pence. I found myself with yet another bag of these leafy vegetables because I cannot resist a cheap deal. Keeping a lookout for what's on offer and what's in season is also one of my best ways to stay within my real food student budget. After too many consecutive meals of spring greens thrown into all my soups and broths or into all sorts of stirfries, I wanted something different, and this recipe came to mind.
Dolmades are Greek parcels of rice wrapped with grape leaves or vine leaves, and there are loads of different varieties. I could have done this with some minced meat in the rice mixture too, or extra diced vegetables, but I really wanted it simple for the zesty spring herbs (that I freshly 'harvested' from my windowsill garden) to shine through. I liked them instantly when I first tasted them because they reminded me of dish from home- Chinese lotus-leaf wrapped rice 荷叶饭 loh mai kai- but now with an edible wrapper! It's hard to come across vine leaves, so collard greens, with their huge tough leaves that stand well to slow-cooking, are a great alternative, i.e. pseudolmades (creative rights go to the real food dudes).
makes 8 parcels
8 large collard leaves
1/3 cup long-grain rice (soaked overnight if brown), plus 1/2 cup homemade stock/water
3-4 spring onions, white parts, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
handful of currants (or sultanas or preferred dried fruit)
handful of pumpkin seeds, soaked and dehydrated or toasted (originally pine nuts, but they're expensive)
handful of chopped coriander and mint leaves
juice and zest of half a lemon
sea salt and pepper
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1. Saute the onion and garlic in 1 tbsp of evoo, then add the rice, currants and pumpkin seeds to toast for 2 min more. Add the stock/water, season, bring to boil and then let simmer till al-dente, about 15 min. Add the chopped herbs and lemon juice and zest to the cooked rice mixture.
2. Steam or blanch the collard leaves in boiling water for 5-10 min so you get cooked, flexible leaves that you can work with easily. De-stem the leaves.
3. A picture speaks a thousand words, so 4 should be more than enough.
(Originally you would stuff the vine leaves with uncooked rice and then let them cook inside the vine leaves, but I think the collard leaves will turn to mush by then.)
4. Steam the parcels, or slowly simmer them over low heat for 30-40 mins in stock with some olive oil and lemon juice added (water should reach halfway up the parcels), adding more water if needed. Serve warm or cool.
Ok now for the tzatziki, totally optional but you must do it.
Tzatziki is a great mediterranean dip that's really refreshing and easy to make! It kind of remindsme of Indian raita too, which is also basically yogurt and cucumber. I added radish too as it's in season and it adds a bit of pepperiness, you can cut it out and add more cucumber!
1 1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cucumber, peeled, deseeded and minced
2-3 radishes, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
handful of chopped mint (or dill)
juice of half a lemon
extra virgin olive oil
1. To make greek yogurt, just strain the yogurt for a few hours till you get a thick creamy consistency. I use Yeo Valley organic yogurt, which is so creamy it's almost greek-like in consistency already so I skip this step.
2. Mix all the ingredients together, and refrigerate for half an hour or so for the flavours to meld.
This is great with toasted pita bread or as a dip for all sorts of things or even to accompany poached fish!
I served my dolmades with lemon slices and tzatziki spooned over generously. Together, they form a great dish that makes use of all that spring has to offer: collard greens, cucumber, radish, spring onions, lemons and fresh herbs like mint and coriander! How's this for a super springtime meal!
This is part of Hearth and Soul Blog Hop.