Plum Dolmas are compact little party appetizers. Sweet, nutty, a little spicy, and very filling.
Plum Dolmas were kind of a pain to prep, but the end result was worth the extra effort. I have tried plenty of recipes for dolmas but I wanted to try something slightly different with this one. Brown rice isn’t my favorite, but I like the nuttiness it adds to this dish.
I love plum anything too. Plums are a beautiful fruit. I look forward to their growing season, so I can get the ripest and juiciest. California is the number 1 producer of plums in the United States. They ship plums all over the country, so there is a good chance you are finding California plums in your grocery store. The California plums start to ripen usually in late May. The season goes until around the start of September.
My backyard is bursting with ripening fruit and vegetables this time of year. Chiles, bell peppers, blueberries, limes, cucumbers, tomatoes, and mini lemons. I’m waiting impatiently for my blackberries and beets.
You could also use a 16 oz. jar of grape leaves if you wanted to save some time. Grape leaves are a bit hard to work with too, being so slippery. You will get messy constructing your rolls. I may have washed my hands about 7 times before I gave up.
I served the Plum Dolmas with pita chips and tzatziki dip. You could set out some stuffed olives too.
1/2 English cucumber, peeled
16 oz (2 cups) plain Greek yogurt
4 cloves garlic, pressed
1/3 cup chopped dill, fresh
1 1/2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
1/8 tsp black pepper
1. The cucumber should be peeled, finely diced and strained of its juices. I squeezed it really tight by the fistful. You can use a cheese cloth if you wish. Getting rid of excess juice is important so that the tzatziki sauce isn’t watery the next day.
2. Combine the strained and chopped cucumber with greek yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, dill, salt, and black pepper.
3. Mix everything together and add more salt to taste if needed. It’s best to refrigerate for about 1 hour before serving to let the flavors meld. It tastes even better after refrigerating overnight!
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 4 cups brown rice
- 4 bay leaves
- 8 cups water
- 6 tsp. salt, or to taste
- 2 cups diced dried plums
- 2 cups diced Swiss chard stems
- 6 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
- 6 Tbsp. finely grated lemon zest
- 1½ Tbsp. ground cumin
- 1½ tsp. cinnamon
- 72 large leaves, Swiss chard
- juice of 4 lemons
- ½ cup roasted, salted sunflower seed kernels, coarsely chopped
- 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
- Heat ¼ cup olive oil in medium saucepan over low heat.
- Add rice and bay leaves and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add water and salt and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes.
- Let stand for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
- Transfer to a medium bowl
- Stir in dried plums, chard stems, sunflower seeds, parsley, lemon zest and spices.
- Season with salt and let cool completely.
- Rinse chard, pat dry and cut away stems.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and season generously with salt.
- Cook 3 to 4 leaves at a time, until softened;
- Remove and place in a bowl of ice water.
- Transfer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet.
- Place a heaping tablespoon of filling on the bottom half of each leaf.
- Fold in the sides, then roll up tightly to enclose filling.
- Spread a layer of Swiss chard leaf scraps on the bottom of a large and heavy pot.
- Lay dolmas, seam-side down, over the leaves.
- Drizzle with remaining olive oil
- Add boiling water to reach halfway up the sides of the dolmas.
- Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.
- Transfer to a serving dish and let cool slightly.
- Drizzle with lemon juice and sprinkle with sunflower seeds and red pepper flakes.