Unstuffed grape leaves is an herbed rice bursting with flavor. It’s so lemony that it makes my mouth water just thinking about it! One of the only problems with this dish is that once you start eating it, you can’t stop. The lemon and herb mixture is delicious and it make this rice totally addictive!
My whole family loves dolmas, even my kids. They make a great packed lunch food, especially if you’re gluten free! However, the premade ones are expensive. I knew I could probably make my own, but I didn’t want to go through all the work of stuffing and rolling up each grape leaf. So, I thought unstuffed grape leaves sounded perfect! All of the lemon and herbs that we loved without all of the work! It took a few tries to perfect it, adding more onions, herbs and lemon each time that I made it. The result is rice bursting with flavor, and it’s one of my new absolute favorite dishes!
I start with three sweet onions. This sounds like a lot, but the onion is key to the right taste and texture. (The first time I made it, I only put in 1 onion and my husband and I were fighting over the tiny pieces of onion at the bottom of the pan. So, trust me, you won’t regret using 3)! I sauté the onion slowly in olive oil to bring out its sweetness. Then, toss in the herbs and lemon juice. Add the water and cook the washed rice in this lemony broth.
Let the rice slowly boil until the liquid is slightly below the rice line, cover, and turn it to low heat and cook for 5 more minutes before turning off the heat. Leave the cover on (I know it’s hard not to peek) and make sure to let it sit for at least 10 minutes after you turn off the heat before fluffing with a fork.
I know we already added lots of lemon, dill, and mint to the cooking water, however, the flavors mellow a lot in the cooking process. While the rice is cooking, make a dressing out of more olive oil, lemon, mint, and dill and drizzle it over your cooked rice.
It wouldn’t be dolma rice without the grape leaves – they add a great texture and flavor to the rice! Chop up grape leaves into small pieces and toss in with the rice. I find grape leaves in a jar at my local grocery store. They will be in the aisle with the Middle Eastern foods.
Unstuffed Grape Leaves – Lemony Dolma Rice!
- 3 TBS mild olive oil
- 2-3 medium sweet onions diced
- 2 TBS fresh minced dill
- 2 TBS fresh minced mint
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 ½ cups water
- 2 cups Jasmine or Basmati rice
- Juice of 2 fresh lemons
- 6-8 grape leaves chopped
- Juice of 3 lemons fresh squeezed
- 3 TBS olive oil (lighter green type has a more mild flavor)
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 TBS minced fresh dill
- 2 TSB fresh minced mint
- Step 1 Put 3 TBS of a mild tasting olive oil in the bottom of your pot and turn to low heat.
- Step 2 Dice the sweet onions and add to the olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
- Step 3 Sauté on low for about 7 minutes until they become translucent.
- Step 4 Add fresh herbs, water, and lemon juice to the pot.
- Step 5 Turn heat up to medium and heat until it begins to boil.
- Step 6 Add well rinsed rice.
- Step 7 Continue to let it boil until the liquid is slightly below the rice line.
- Step 8 Cover and turn to low and cook covered for 5 more minutes.
- Step 9 Turn off heat and let it sit for at least 10 minutes before taking the lid off.
- Step 10 While the rice is cooking, mix the lemon, olive oil, salt, and herbs in a separate bowl to make the dressing.
- Step 11 Fluff with a fork and add the chopped grape leaves.
- Step 12 Drizzle the dressing over the rice and mix well.
- Step 13 Serve hot or cold.
This unstuffed grape leaves – dolma rice is delicious both warm and cold. It works great as a side or a main course. Perfect for lunches, picnics, potluck!
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