Meatless Monday – Dolma and chickpea and bean stew.

I love Greek food, out of all the cuisines available that I am aware of, I mostly turn to the Greeks when I need a hit of fresh salads or to find new inspirations for seasonal fruits and vegetables that I might have raved over in their first flush and guzzled them down, but I now need an extra zing to make me appreciate their beauty once more. dolma 5

I use Vefa’s Kitchen by Vefa Alexiadou as my main source of inspirations for vegetables during the summer months.  Personally I think Italian food can get too heavy with their pasta and pizzas, its not what I want to eat in the summer.  The Greeks favour much lighter dishes, with fresh fish, meats and cheeses as their main components, with salad dishes and rice, I just prefer it.

But one thing I absolutely adore is Dolma.  I love the zingy taste of the vine leaves and when my neighbour gave me permission to pick a few of his, I was a very happy girl. Dolma 1

Dolma 2

As you can see they are very young leaves, if they had been any older I would have blanched them, but I just picked out the hard stalks in the middle.

Chopped an onion and sauted it, added some uncooked rice, took it off the heat, added another drizzle of olive oil and started to roll them.  There are recipes to add pine nuts or raisins and some cuisines make a meaty version, but I just like a plain Dolma. Dolma 3

Then place some of the older leaves at the bottom of the pan before layering up the stuffed vine leaves.  Give it a good squeeze of lemon, I only had limes, but it did the trick, add double the volume of water to rice and then a bit for luck, clamp the lid down and cook on a gentle heat until all the water is absorbed. dolma 4

They were lovely. chickpea and bean stew

To go with it I made a simple runner bean and chick pea stew, made from runner beans from the garden and flavoured with onion, tomato, garlic and fresh thyme also from the garden.

Simple, yet perfect.

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