Pearl Barley Stuffed Vine Leaves
Making stuffed vine leaves at home while listening to some good music is up there with the most therapeutic, relaxing activities that I enjoy. These are stuffed with a spiced pearl barley flavoured with onion, garlic, nigella seeds and a few other good things - I find the pearl barley brings a great texture to this classic.
- 1 cup pearl barley
- 1 medium carrot
- 1 medium brown onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon nigella seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 1/2 lemon
- Salt and olive oil to taste
- 30-40 vine leaves
- 1. Start by preparing the vine leaves. Rinse them under cold water and then place them in a bowl. Fill up the bowl with warm (close to hot) water and let them soak for 20-30 minutes until softened. They are then ready to be used.
- 2. While the vine leaves are softening, prep the filling. Rinse and drain the pearl barley, and set it aside. Chop the onion in medium cubes and finely chop the garlic. For the carrot, cut them into fine strips (julienne) and gather the strips to then slice them into tiny cubes
- 3. Heat up a medium large saucepan under medium heat. Add a drizzle olive oil and fry the onions until transluscent (3 to 4 minutes). Add the garlic and fry for 1 minute until aromatic. Add the carrots and the pear barley. Add 3 cups of boiling water, cover with a lid and lower the heat (the pearl barley to water ratio is 1 to 3). Cook for 35 minutes.
- 4. Once the barley is cooked, remove the lid and let it cool. Don't worry if right after cooking there is still a bit of water there, it will dry as it cools.
- 5. Add 3-4 open vine leaves to the bottom of a saucepan and set that aside. Let's now start stuffing the vine leaves by adding 1 teaspoon of the pearl barley filling to the bottom center of a leaf. Roll that up halfway and fold in the left and right ends of the leaf towards the center. Finish rolling it, tucking in the filling while you roll.
- 6. Place each vine leaf into the saucepan after you roll it, keeping them relatively tight with one another such that they do not move during the cooking. Once you've finished rolling them, drizzle a generous amount of olive oil over the leaves and add water to the pan - you want to add water exactly to the point where the dolmades are fully covered, and no more. Place a plate on top to keep them tight, cover with a lid and simmer over low heat for c. 40 minutes.
- 7. Once all the water has been absorbed, remove the lid and plate and let them cool for about 40 minutes before serving. Mix together 4 tablespoons of olive oil with the juice of half a lemon and pour this over the leaves once cooled. Enjoy!