Pomegranate Dolmas

I absolutely love cooking with pomegranate juice. Not only is it absolutely delicious – straight out of the bottle or infused into anything and everything – it imparts gorgeous color into everything it touches (though, when it touches my clothes, that beautiful scarlet color is not quite so desirable)

Pomegranate glazed tofu, pomegranate vinaigrette, and, of course, these dolmas (dolmades?).

I bought grape leaves on a whim one day, thinking that when the craving struck, I’d go out and buy the rest of the classic dolma ingredients.  That didn’t quite happen.  As is often the case, I found myself in a whirl of kitchen madness on my day off from work and felt like whipping up anything and everything I could.  The jar of grape leaves caught my eye, and I said to hell with the white rice, mint, dill, and whatnot and scrounged around my cabinets for substitutes.

So, I conjured up my own simple recipe and it turned out absolutely delicious and surprisingly similar to traditional dolmas.  Pomegranate is classic Mediterranean fare, so it’s really not such a stretch.

– 3/4 cup brown rice
– 1/2 cup pomegranate juice
– 1 cup vegetable stock
– 1/2 – 1 cup water
– 1 onion, diced
– 30 (ish) grape leaves
– 1 1/2 tablespoons sucanat or brown sugar
– olive oil
– 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted (optional)

  1. Put rice, juice, stock, and 1/2 cup water into a pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn down to simmer and cook for about 35 minutes. You’ll want the rice to be a bit undercooked, as it will continue cooking inside the leaves.
  2. In the meantime, saute onions in a bit of oil over medium heat until just translucent
  3. Blanch grape leaves a few at a time in boiling water and set aside
  4. Cut stems off of leaves
  5. Combine rice, cooked onions, sugar, and salt to taste. Add walnuts, if using. allow to cool for 20 or so minutes.
  6. Lay one grape leaf on flat surface, vein-side-up and place a spoonful of rice filling at the stem-end of the leaf.
  7. Fold stem-end over rice, fold sides in, and roll up the rest of the leaf (see below for visual instruction)
  8. Place rolled dolmas in a wide pan (in one layer) and fill up with about 1/2 inch of water.  To prevent burning, line the pan with extra/ripped leaves
  9. Simmer over low heat until all the water has evaporated.
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Vegan ‘Ricotta’ Gnocchi two ways: original and gluten free

Since I know I’ve already made grandmothers from so many cultures roll over in their graves with my (odd) food creations, I figured there was no harm in offending just one more culture’s traditions.

And this recipe, an affront to Italian grandmothers everywhere, was born.

Delicious? Yes. Authentic? Hell no.

Step one: Making the tofu “ricotta.”  The flavor of the gnocchi will turn out best if this is done the day before, though it will be delicious either way.  You’ll want to blend the tofu mixture until it’s completely creamy and uniform

Add flour to tofu mixture, being careful not to overwork as this will create a gummy gnocchi

Roll the dough gently into a rope about 1 inch in diameter

Cut into pieces about 3/4 to 1 inch wide

Optional: roll each gnocchi with a fork (I did so to differentiate the GF gnocchi from the others)
Boil for a quick 2 minutes, drain, and add your favorite vegetables and toppings!

VEGAN ‘RICOTTA’ GNOCCHI
– 16 oz. block extra firm organic tofu
– 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
– 3-4 cloves garlic, smashed
– 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
– Salt and pepper to taste
– 1/2 to 3/4 cups wheat or chickpea (for GF version) flour

Note: Steps 1-3 may be done the day before.  This will allow the flavors to develop well

1. Saute smashed garlic in oil until golden brown
2. Combine tofu, garlic, and nutritional yeast in food processor and blend until smooth.
3. Add salt and pepper to tofu mixture. Taste. The ‘ricotta’ should be a little bit saltier than you like, as you will be adding flour
4. Transfer ‘ricotta’ to small mixing bowl and add 1/2 cup flour. Stir to combine. If dough is too loose to roll out, add a bit more flour, but try to use as little as you need
5. Roll out dough on floured surface. Divide and shape into ropes 1 inch in diameter.  If dough is difficult to work with, refrigerate for 1/2 hour.
6. Cut dough into pieces 3/4 to 1 inch wide
7. Drop gnocchi into boiling water in small batches. Both the wheat and GF versions took 2 minutes to cook

Optional steps:
– Sear the gnocchi in 1 teaspoon olive oil for a crispy exterior
– Add your favorite vegetables and toppings. I paired the gluten free version with sauteed mushrooms, basil puree, and vegan parmesan.  The wheat version was tossed with arugula, baby tomatoes, and hemp seeds.  Both were topped with freshly ground pepper.

Gnocchi with arugula, tomatoes, and hemp seeds.

Gluten free gnocchi with basil, mushrooms, and vegan parmesan.