Parve, Sephardi, Technique

Meatless Dolma for Summer


It’s summer, and we just don’t want to eat anything hot and heavy. Also, the kids are home and we need something to occupy them. These meatless dolma are the perfect solution. The kids will have a blast helping you make and fill the grape leaves. Turn the occasion into a family affair! By the way, these delicious Middle Eastern hors d’oeuvres are perfect for the vegans in your life, which also makes them parve!

Meatless Dolma

Yield: Makes 35 stuffed grape leaves

Ingredients for the Leaves:

  • 8 ounces preserved grape leaves
  • 1 ¼ cups long grain rice
  • 3 tablespoons dried currants
  • 4 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 2-3 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons crushed dried mint
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • Salt and pepper

Ingredients for the Pan and for Cooking the Dolma:

  • 3 sliced tomatoes, or several reserved grape leaves
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced thin
  • 2/3 cup best quality olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon


  1. Place the grape leaves in a bowl and pour boiling water over them. Leave to soak for 20 minutes, then drain and cover with cold water. After 20 minutes, drain and cover with more cold water. Leave sit 20 minutes, then drain. This will remove the excess salt.
  2. Place rice in large, heat proof bowl. Add boiling water to cover rice. Stir well, then drain the rice in a colander. Let cold tap water run over rice to rinse. Drain.
  3. Mix rice with all ingredients through the salt and pepper.
  4. To stuff leaves, place each leaf, vein side up, on cutting board in front of you. Place a tablespoon of rice mixture in the center of the leaf, close to the stem end. Fold the stem end up toward the filling, then fold in the sides of the leaves. Now roll up the dolma like a cigar. Squeeze the dolma in the palm of your hand.
  5. Line a large pan with sliced tomatoes or torn, reserved grape leaves. Pack the stuffed grape leaves in the lined pan, slipping in a sliver of garlic from time to time.
  6. Mix olive oil with 2/3 cup water. Add sugar and lemon juice. Pour over stuffed grape leaves. Place a heat-proof plate on top of the leaves to keep them from unrolling.  Cover the pan and simmer gently for one hour, until the rolls are cooked through, adding water from time to time, a half a cup at a time, as the water is absorbed.
  7. Cool in pan. Refrigerate. Serve cold.