On Wednesday, July 13, the Treasure Valley Wine Society will be holding their annual picnic at the Indian Creek Winery in Kuna, Idaho. Here are some recipes that Robin and I will be bringing as an appetizer. I like my lamb dolmades in a tomato sauce. They are also good just plain with a squeeze of lemon. Enjoy!

Lebanese Dolmades

Prep Time: 2 hrs
Total Time: 2¼ hrs

Note: To process fresh grape leaves, plunge into a deep container of very hot water for about 10 seconds, to soften (don’t let the leaves lose their fresh green color). Place on a cold water bath until ready for use.

36 fresh Grape Leaves – See note above
2¼ lbs Ground Lamb
2¼ c Long Grain White Rice
1 T Salt
1 t Pepper, cracked
1 t Cinnamon
12 cloves Garlic
1 T Mint, fresh and chopped
2 T Greek Oregano, fresh and chopped

1 Place rice in a medium sized bowl and cover with 3 cups of cold water. Let stand for 1 hour.

2 Cut leaves in half removing the thick center stem. Save five or six large leaves for bottom of pan- discard any extremely tough or ragged leaves.

3 Drain all water from rice.

4 Add lamb, salt, pepper, oregano and cinnamon. Mix by hand thoroughly.

5 Line bottom of large kettle or dutch oven with five or six large leaves to prevent scorching.

6 Lay a leaf flat on a plate, shiny side down. Put approximately 1 heaping teaspoon of meat mixture towards bottom of leaf. Roll in one edge to seal, then roll leaf up firmly but not too tight (you need to leave a little room for the rice to expand while cooking).

7 Place leaves in kettle in circular fashion leaving a small circle in the center for water to circulate. When you have one full row on bottom of pan, slice two cloves of garlic over the top of the leaves. Sprinkle with a little of the mint.

8 Continue rolling the leaves and layering them with the garlic/ mint. You should have approximately five rows of leaves when you are done.

9 Place a heatproof plate over the top of the leaves- large enough to hold them in place, but with a little room on the edges. Put a bowl on top of the plate filled with water to hold the plate down while cooking. Fill kettle with water over the top of the plate.

10 Cook on top of stove on high heat until it begins to boil. Lower heat to medium so that water does not boil over and continue cooking. Total cooking time after it starts to boil is 16-19 minutes.

11 Remove bowl. Carefully drain water from kettle. Remove plate. Arrange leaves on a platter. Serve with lemon wedges.

Vegetarian Dolmades

Rice Stuffing:
3 T Newman’s Own Organic Raisins
3 T Dates, chopped
3 T Dried Apricots chopped, Optional
1 c Warm water
2 T Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
3 T raw Pine Nuts, toasted
½ c Onion, finely chopped and cooked until translucent
2 c Long-grain White Rice, cooked
1 t ground Cinnamon
Juice of 1 freshly-squeezed Lemon and zest
2 tablespoons finely-chopped fresh Mint Leaves
2 T dry Oregano

Soak dates in warm water for approximately 15 to 20 minutes.

To make the stuffing, heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add pine nuts; stir and cook the pine nuts for about 2 minutes or until they are golden brown. Add onion, date, raisins, white rice, cinnamon, lemon, oregano and mint; stir the mixture. Let the stuffing cool for 30 to 40 minutes before stuffing the prepared grape leaves.

Yogurt-Cucumber Sauce

1 c Plain Yogurt
½ c Sour Cream
1/3 c diced Cucumber
¾ t dried Dill Weed
1 t Lemon Juice

In a bowl, combine yogurt, sour cream, cucumber, lemon juice and dill weed. Allow flavors to blend in the refrigerator 2 to 3 hours before serving.