Garden, Plant, Cook!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Dolma, Stuffed Grape, or Fig, or Nasturtium OR...

Left Nasturtium / Right Fig
Dear Folks,

I have written about using my huge nasturtium leaves to make Dolma, the addictive Middle Eastern dish/snack made by stuffing grape leaves with a mixture of grains, maybe meat and herbs.

Several years ago I was sitting at my kitchen table, gazing at my HUGE nasturtium leaves (some 8+ inches across), I started researching Dolma, because I had the idea of using those nasturtium leaves instead of grape leaves.

I was also looking for ways to mimic the already processed grape leaves which are available in cans or jars to make the Dolma.  I learned I could make it without the necessity of processing the leaves first - an all-in-one cooking process.  Bingo!

Along the way I learned that many of the original Dolma from ancient times were made with fig leaves.  Of course!  Figs are native to that area of the world, why wouldn't they use the fig leaf.  Called "Thrion" Dolma made with fig rather than vine leaves is still found in Greece, Turkey and presumably other areas.

The trick is to get the fig leaves while they are still young and not as leathery as the older leaves*.  For the prior two years I missed my opportunity, but this year I actually caught the leaves in time. So I made up a batch of Dolma using half fig and half nasturtium leaves to fill the pot.   I had made up a batch of my grain mix (barley and quinoa) and just had to add some shredded carrot and chopped olives.  Mix up lemon juice and olive oil and I was ready to fill and cook.

When you pick fig leaves, there is a latex type sap which you want to rinse off, by soaking the leaves for a while.  Cut off stem.  As you can see, I left the fig leaf intact to allow for rolling.

My Basic Dolma Recipe.

This basic recipe is so easily adapted to your preferences. I like Barley/Quinoa to boost the protein, but you can use any grain or combination you like.  You can add meat if you like.  Keep the lemon juice/oil proportions pretty much as noted, the 'tang' of the lemon is what gives a lot of flavor to the finished product. [The carrots are to keep the dolmas packed tight for cooking - nice extra flavored snack!]

Comparison of Nasturtium to Fig?  I think I liked my nasturtium a bit more than the fig, but I would certainly make it again, just because I have fig trees!

Many leaves can be used to make Dolma.  Find leaves you love and give the recipe a try.  What unique leaf would you try or have tried??

* My friend Cricket Aldridge has a site ( where she posts wonderful ideas for using your garden bounty.  She introduced me to the idea of using dried fig leaves for tea.  Wonderful!  I have a jar of my dried fig leaves for use when I want to add to my cup of tea.  Older leaves, that are in perfect condition, can be used for this.  Since I missed the young leaves for Dolma last year I made up for it by grabbing nice older leaves to dry and store.

Have a great day in the garden and kitchen!

P.S.  If you missed my post on drying herbs and more here is the link.

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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