Dolma or stuffed grape leaves is a popular Middle Eastern delicacy that has numerous variations today. Meat is normally used in making hot dolma and cold dolmas generally are without. I adapted a recipe from Claudia Roden’s book The New Book of Middle Eastern Food and replaced the grape leaves with nasturtium leaves. The resulting dolmas were smaller (the nasturtium leaves I had were small) but my guests for my Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24 Cooking with Edible Flowers party preferred it better than the grape leaves. They said it is not as “stringy”. I made both grape leaves and nasturtium leaves version to compare.
- at least 15 pieces fresh nasturtium leaves
- 1 lb ground lamb
- 1 cup long grain rice
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 tbs finely chopped parsley
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 4 – 5 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp sugar
- juice of 1 lemon
- salt and pepper
- Wash rice in boiling water, then rinse in cold water. Drain. In a large bowl, mix with ground lamb, tomato, onion, parsley, cinnamon, salt and pepper.
- Stuff nasturtium leaves with the mixture. Place each leaf on a plate, vein side up. Put one heaping teaspoon (more or less depending on size of leaves) of filling in the center of the leaf near the stem. Fold the stem end up over the filling, then fold both sides toward the middle and roll up like spring rolls. Continue with the rest of the leaves.
- Line bottom of sauce pan with extra leaves (or a piece of lamb breast if available) or tomato slices to prevent leaves from sticking to the pan and burning. Pack the stuffed leaves in tight layers, pushing pieces of garlic in between. Sprinkle with lemon juice and add about 2/3 cup water. (Picture below shows grape leaves version at the bottom and the light green ones on top are the nasturtium leaves version.)
4. Put a small plate or saucer over the rolled leaves to prevent them from coming undone. Cover and cook over medium low heat for about 1 hour, or until tender, adding water gradually as it becomes absorbed.
5. Turn out onto serving dish and serve hot.