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Greek Dolmas Rice Recipe ($0.70 per serving)

Recipe inspired by The Mediterranean Dish.

I was pruning a grape bush and had a lot of grape leaves. Figured I would try to make the Greek dish, dolmas, which are grape leaves stuffed with rice, onions, ground beef, herbs and spices. After following the recipe above, I realized it is really cumbersome and time consuming, but the flavor was amazing.

So then I tried simplifying it and it turned out amazing. My twist was to cook it as a rice dish and then scoop the hot rice into the pickled grape leaves as a sort of handheld sushi wrapper. The rice was so delicious even on its own. I would definitely make again with or without grape leaves.

As for cost, the lentil version costs only $2.79 for the entire dish (excluding grape leave wraps). And it makes 4 large entree size servings which works out to only $0.70 per serving! Tough to beat that cost for such a delicious meal.

Dolmas Rice

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 oz ground beef (or substitute 1/2 cup lentils with 1 cup water and add with rice)
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 1.5 cups rice (I use white jasmine rice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon all spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley or 1 tablespoon fresh
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill or 1 tablespoon fresh
  • 1 teaspoon dried mint or 1 tablespoon fresh
  • 2 1/4 cups chicken or vegetable stock (amount may need adjusting based on the rice type)
  • 1/8 cup (2 tablespoons) lemon juice


  • Season the beef with some of the salt and pepper and cook in the oil on medium heat. If using lentils instead, add with the rice and remaining ingredients.
  • Add the onions and any remaining salt and pepper and cook until the onions are translucent (about 3-4 minutes).
  • Add the remaining ingredients.
  • Cook as you would regular rice by bringing the liquid to a boil, turning down the heat, covering, and following the simmer and cooling times for the rice you selected.

Pickled Grape Leaves - best if made at least a day in advance

  • 20-30 large grape leaves
  • About 6 cups water for boiling
  • 1/8 cup kosher salt
  • 1/8 cup lemon juice


  • Bring the water to a boil in a pot.
  • Add the grape leaves 4-5 at a time.
  • Boil for 30 second to 1 minute until they turn from bright green to dull green.
  • Use a strainer spoon to remove them and put in a colander to drain. My salad spinner works perfectly for this because I can keep it near the stove and the liner bowl will catch any draining water.
  • Continue this process until all the grape leaves are cooked.
  • Grab a 1 quart storage container with a lid.
  • Gently separate and unfold the cooked grape leaves and lay neatly in the storage container.
  • Mix 4 cups of the pot water with the salt and lemon juice and stir until the salt is dissolved. If you give it a taste, the salt content should be similar to sea water.
  • Pour over the grape leaves and ensure all are submerged. if not, make more liquid using the ratio of 2 cups water, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice.
  • Let soak overnight or up to a week.
  • Drain the leaves and place on a plate for guests to grab and scoop rice into. Or alternatively chop them up into bit size pieces and stir into the rice.
  • Enjoy!