Rice and Herb Stuffed Grape Leaves (Dolmades Nistisimi)

Most Greek women use fresh or home frozen grape leaves and this makes all the difference. During our spring and early summer Keartisanal cooking classes we pick them from the garden. This is one of the very first dishes we cooked together with our guests when we started our programs on Kea and it is still one of our guests’ favorite; much like all over the Eastern Mediterranean, this is often prepared by a group of family and friends, as it is somewhat time consuming. 

The vine leaves toughen as the days get hotter, though, so later in the summer we use our home-frozen ones which work equally well. If you can get hold of even a few fresh grape leaves, use them as flavoring, placing them between the dolmades. Fresh leaves need to be blanched for about 3-5 minutes, while frozen tender leaves can be used directly after thawing, or need to be blanched just for a few seconds.

Make the dolmades one or two days in advance, let them cool in the pot, and then store in the fridge. They taste better the next day.

 

To serve 8-10 as an appetizer

 

 

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Fried Olives with Onions (Elies Tiganites me Kremydi)

Serves 8-10

1 pound black salt-cured Greek olives, (‘throumbes’, often called ‘Thassos’ in the US) or juicy black olives, such as Pelion
Olive oil for sautéing
1 large purple onion, sliced
1 tablespoon rosemary leaves, or a mixture of dried oregano and thyme
Fresh whole-wheat or toasted bread slices, to serve
Slices of Manouri or Ricotta Salata cheese, to serve (optional)

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Green Olives Marinated with Lemon, Chili, and Fennel

Adapted from a recipe by Marco Smouha, from “Olives, Flavored by Time, Seasoned With Memories” by Julia Moskin (New York Times, October 17, 2007)

Following our tradition, I substituted fennel for the celery called for in the original recipe. I made it last year for the first time, and I loved both the spicy olives as well as the fragrant preserved lemon pieces that are a great addition to all kinds of winter salads.

For 1 gallon (more…)

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Dry-salted Black olives (Elies Throumbes)

Place 2-4 pounds ripe, black olives in a basket or large colander, sprinkling generously with coarse sea salt. Place in a cool corner of the kitchen, over a large bowl. Shake and toss the olives at least once a day – more often if possible.

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After 2-3 days, they will start to wrinkle and let out some of their juices. Keep tossing for at least another 3-4 days. Check if they are done by slashing one or two olives and checking the color of their inner flesh. If dark all the way to the pit, they are done. Let dry completely on paper towels, then rub with olive oil and sprinkle with herbs (dried oregano, savory, or thyme). (more…)

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Cracked Green Olives (Elies Tsakistes)

Rinse the freshly picked green olives with cold water. On a flat surface, crack each fruit with a stone or a meat mallet and soak the olives in cold water for 6-8 days – depending on the size of the fruits — changing the water every 12 or 24 hours.

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Taste after 6 days. Olives should be just slightly bitter. Drain and salt liberally. Let stand 12-36 hours, according to how salty you want the olives to be. Transfer the olives to jars, packing tightly in order to fit as many as possible. (more…)

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