Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Humble Grazing

It is rare that I sit down & eat a full meal. I graze .... a LOT. I have tons of bowls in the frig with all kinds of food to munch on. I get hungry... I bring them out & nibble away. I get full.. I put them back in the frig. During these HOT days of summer that seem endless... I eat mostly raw & cold. Something heated.. just doesn't tickle my "flavor town."

I had my first dolmas back in June at the East West in Santa Rosa, Ca. Wow! Loved them. Tangy & sweet w/brown rice.

Then I ventured into the Village Cafe locally & ordered dolmas... tho they were not on the menu at the cafe... they are on their web menu. Yum...Yum.... these were SO awesome! Not tangy at all. The rice had a wonderful safflower taste.

Ok, so I love dolmas. I CAN make these myself! I thought carefully about what I would like in the "Humble Vegan's Dolmas..... wehani rice, that I call "Aggie rice" because of its beautiful maroon color. It is a type of Basmati rice. Chopped green onions & TONS of minced fresh garlic & a couple of surprises that you'll find in the recipe below, which BTW, I don't really measure much. I just go by taste...

Obviously, the Humble Vegan's dolmas are not going to be "traditional" dolmas... but neither is my Humble hummus's! (or is it Hummi?) I will make a variety of dolmas, I'm sure. Will share them with you as well.....

It goes without saying... these should be made with all organics, if possible.

Humble Vegan Dolmas

12 grape leaves (fresh or in a jar. if jar is used, be sure to rinse the brine off the leaves)

2 to 3 cups steamed wehani rice, cooled to room temp

Green onion chopped ( I use a lot)

Fresh garlic minced (I use a lot of this too!)

Pecans, raw and chopped into small pieces maybe 1/2 cup

1 small can of Mandarin Orange slices in own juice.. NOT syrup. (save the juice)

cumin 1/2t

curry 1 to 1.5 t (I LOVE curry.. so I use a lot of this too)

cinnamon 1/2 t (sometimes I use more)

I confess.. the whole roll up & over grape leaf thing scared me. I really didn't think I would get it. Pah-leeze... piece of cake, really. The key to success.... roll them carefully & roll them tight!

I personally like the grape leaves just as is... not steamed. And I make the dolmas with the rice already steamed. Most recipes call for the rice half steamed & then you roll your dolmas & place them in a steamer until the rice is completely cooked and the grape leaf is tender. Whew! TMW (too much work) for me!

Ok, here goes: this is pretty spicy... so you will want to adjust to your tastes.

In your bowl of rice, add some of the mandarin OJ. enough to make it moist, but not soaked. (save some of the juice for basting later) Mix the rice so that it is covered in juice. You don't want any extra juice in the bottom of the bowl. (that means you added too much juice)

Add the chopped onion, minced garlic and pecans to the rice, mix well.

Add the spices, mix well.

Chop maybe 1/2 of the mandarin slices and add to the mix. Carefully fold mixture so the oranges don't get all mushy.

Now, if you want your grape leaves steamed... then place them in a steamer for about 2 to 3 minutes. Caution about steaming too long as they will tear apart.

Spread the grape leaf out on the counter, stem side up & cut the stem off. Add a spoonful of rice, leaving about 1/4 inch on each side of leaf for rolling. Turn in both sides to center. Roll from the bottom to the top. The grape leaf will stick to itself at the top. No need for toothpicks.

As you make each one, place flat, side by side in a glass dish with lid. Place in frig till ready to serve. When serving, baste each dolma with OJ from the mandarin orange. This will keep the grape leaves shiny & dark. Garnish with slices of Mandarin Oranges & sprinkle with chopped pecans.

These make beautiful dolmas... the rich maroon color of the
rice, the bits of the shiny mandarin oranges mixed in with the
bright green onion tops and the crunchy pecan bits all rolled up
in a lucious dark green grape leaf.

On a side note.... if you want a really awesome dipping sauce for these try this (remember, I don't really measure anything..)

cashew butter (made fresh or organic salt free in a jar)
mandarin orange juice or freshly squeezed from an orange
agave nectar
cayenne pepper

Mix the cashew butter & juice together to make a smooth semi-thick consistancy. Squeeze in some agave nectar and sprinkle on the cayenne pepper... all to your taste. mix together and drizzle on top of the dolmas or use as a dipping sauce.

So...... are you up for a challenge? Give this dish a try & let me know if the grapeleaf thing did you in :-)

Happy Humble Grazing......

Until next time..... GOOD HEALTH TO ALL!!


  1. Yum! Any extra nibbles for a vegan guest who hates to cook? :)

  2. wish I did! took some to the gals at KEOS. Came home after the show sunday night and ate the rest of them. Finished off the spicy cashew sauce before I got a pic of it!! I'm learning NOT to eat up all the product before getting pictures :-)

  3. That's the hardest part - remembering to take the photos :)

    I end up "wowing" myself with something and then realize I forgot to take the pic. Ugh!