Bunch of vine leaves
Green peppers (they are a lighter green and smaller than bell peppers)
Dried vegetables (we used tomatoes, aubergines and courgettes)
2 cups short grained (Baldo) rice
2.5 medium onions
6 - 7 medium soft and juicy tomatoes
Juice of 4 lemons
3/4 cup Colive oil
Half a bunch of mint leaves
1 tbsp salt
2 tbsp black pepper
1/4 halloumi cheese
1. Peel the onions, quarter them and place in the food processor and finely chop using the chopping blade.
2. Transfer the chopped onions into a big bowl. Peel soft tomatoes and cut them into two. Place these into the food processor and finely chop using the chopping blade as well.
3. Transfer the tomatoes into the same bowl with onions.
4. Wash two cups of short grained rice and add them to the tomato-onion bowl.
5. Wash the mint leaves and cut them finely to add to the stuffing mixture.
6. Using a knife, cut halloumi into small pieces and add to the stuffing mixture.
7. Add 3/4 cup olive oil and juice of 4 lemons to the stuffing.mixture.
8. Season with 1 tbsp salt and 2 tbsp black pepper and mix well.
9. Bring a saucepan of hot water to boil.
10. Wash vine leaves and green peppers. Remove the cap of the green peppers to clean the seeds. Keep the caps with stalks as we will use to to close the peppers.
11. Put the vine leaves into boiling saucepan. Remove them as soon as they take a darker shade of green and soften. Green pepper don’t need this hot water treatment.
12. Put the dried vegetables into hot water as well. Just for a little while so that they soften and their creases relax a little bit.
13. For each green pepper or dried vegetable, fill only 3/4 with stuffing mixture as the rice will expand once it is cooked.
14. Depending on how big your leaves are, you will need around 2/3 or 1/2 tbsp of stuffing for each vine leaf. Vine leaves should be thin and soft. Avoid using the ones that are too thick and stiff. Once you roll them they should be finger-thick, this is why we are not using too much stuffing.
15. Use a flat plate while folding and rolling your stuffed leaves. Cut off the stalk before you start rolling. The excess liquid from the stuffing will accumulate in the plate, pour this excess liquid to the shallow pan you will use to cook the stuffed leaves and vegetables.
16. Line up the stuffed leaves in a shallow pan. Once it is full put a flat big plate on top and close the lit. Start cooking over medium heat. Once the liquid starts boiling reduce the heat and let it simmer for 20 - 30 minutes. Once 1/3 of the liquid is gone, remove the lid and big flat plate and let it cook that way for a while until most of the liquid is evaporated and the stuffed leaves and vegetables are thoroughly cooked.
It is the vine leaf season in Cyprus which means it is dolma season. These are delicious served cold so you will enjoy the leftovers for a good few days. Remove the halloumi and you have got yourself a vegan meal.
There are a thousand different ways of preparing them, this is the version we grew up with so it is Colive’s Cypriot Mum Kitchen version. Give it a try, you won’t regret it!