Vegetarian Dolmas


I moved into my house just about a year ago and since that time I’ve been looking forward to making dolmas.  You see, my backyard came with this aggressive grape vine that last year didn’t really make any decent grapes (maybe it would have if the squirrels didn’t get them first, or if the previous owners had watered ANYTHING in the yard).  At any rate, the grape leaves are young and tender and it’s time to let this vine prove it’s got some value.  I posted on social media about my dolmas and got so many questions, I decided to post my recipe… thank goodness I took notes while I was making this!  Note that this recipe is not traditional in any way nor is it trying to be.  It’s just good.

Vegetarian Dolmas

This recipe is made in sections.


2 cups brown rice

3 cups water

Put the rice and water into a rice cooker and let it do it’s thing.  You could also cook it on the stove top, but you’ll need to find those instructions elsewhere.


TVP is “texturized vegetable protein”.  In my house, we have it on hand to add protein to vegetarian dishes.  We use it instead of ground meat.  You can find it in the grocery store.  We like Bob’s Red Mill’s TVP.

1 cup TVP

1 cup vegetable broth

1 Tbs tomato paste

2 Tbs soy sauce (sounds odd, makes the TVP taste amazing)

2 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

Place the dry TVP into a medium-sized bowl (it’s going to expand).  Mix the rest of the ingredients in a bowl or other pourable vessle (I like my 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup).  Pour the broth mixture over the TVP and let it sit until the liquid is absorbed.  Give it a stir to fluff it up.

Finish the Filling

1 Tbs tomato paste

2 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp chopped fresh oregano

1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme

1 Tbs chopped fresh basil

4 oz oil-packed sun dried tomatoes with their oil

1 can of artichokes, chopped

1/2 cup of kalamata olives – measured and then chopped

3/4 cup (2 handfulls) of sweetened dried cranberries (aka “Craisens”… I use Mariani brand) – you could also use raisins or dried currants

8 oz feta

black pepper to taste, freshly ground

Mix all of the above ingredients, the rice, and TVP in the biggest bowl you’ve got.  Adjust the amounts to your taste.  At this point, it should smell good and taste good.  If not, make adjustments.  Set this aside and prepare your grape leaves.

Grape Leaves


I used fresh grape leaves from my vine.  Only use leaves that you know have not been sprayed with pesticides.  Pick them when they’re young-ish.  Too big and they’ll be tough.

30 grape leaves

2 Tbs salt

Lots of water

Remove the stem and the thickest veins at the base of the leaves.  Be careful not to make a giant hole in the middle of the leaf.


Bring a pasta pot full of water and the salt to a boil (I made it like I was making pasta).  Working in batches of 5, boil the leaves for about 2 minutes each.  They will float, so use tongs to flip the pile of leaves over a few times to make sure they all cook. Drain them in a colander to remove the excess water.

Assembly & Baking

Olive oil

2-3 cups of broth

Prepare a 9×13 inch glass pan by generously sprinkling the bottom of the pan with olive oil. (Confession: mine didn’t all fit in the 9×13 so I also had a 9×9 for the overflow… no big deal.)

Place one grape leaf flat on the cutting board with the base of the leaf (where the stem was) closest to your body.

Place about 2 tablespoons of filling in the middle of the leaf.


Fold the sides of the leaf over the filling.

Fold the bottom of the leaf over the filling.

Roll the pile of filling and leaf sides upwards to the top tip of the leaf.  Roll a firm but not tight packet.  It will expand a little while baking, so don’t worry if it isn’t super tight.

Place the rolled dolma in the pan seam-side down.

Repeat 29 more times, arranging the dolmas in the pan so they fit tightly together.

Once all the dolmas are in the pan, sprinkle more olive oil on top of the dolmas and fill the pan with broth up to about half way up the dolmas.  Traditional recipes cover them completely, but our rice is already cooked.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes until the dolmas have absorbed most of the broth.




About micheletobias

I lead two lives - one as an artist and the other as a scientist. More and more I'm finding my two worlds colliding, and it's not the disaster you might expect. View all posts by micheletobias

I'd love to hear what you think. Leave a comment!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: