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Koupepia (Dolmades or Stuffed Vine leaves)

You will need about half a kilo or one pound of fresh vine leaves.  (See note on vine leaves *).

Half a kilo or one pound of fresh minced beef or pork, a mixture of both also works very well.

½ cup or 90g long grain white rice (this is a matter of preference, some people prefer more rice some less, so it does not matter if you put too much or too little)

Some Dried mint about ½ - 1 tablespoon (depends on what you prefer)

1 medium onion finely chopped

1 tin chopped tomatoes (fresh are nicer if you can get them – again amount of tomatoes is to taste)

1 tablespoon tomato puree

Juice of ½ lemon

Season with salt, pepper, ground cinnamon (not too much of this)

Prepare the vine leaves

If you are using fresh vine leaves, wash them then place in a large bowl and pour over boiling water to cover them, leave them till they change colour then remove the water.  Allow to cool before using.

If you are using packed vine leaves just wash them to remove the brine.  For frozen vine leaves allow to defrost normally or just defrost in cold water.

Preparing the filling

Fry the onion in a little oil, till golden, add the tomato and fry till reduced to a sauce, allow to cool .

Put the mince into a bowl and add the rice, dried mint and seasoning.

Add the sauce and lemon juice.

Mix together till everything is evenly distributed.

Filling the Koubepia

Take a vine leaf and place with the front of it facing downwards and the inside (lined) facing upwards.

Place about a tablespoon of the mixture on the leaf near the stem part of the leaf.

Fold the sides of the leaf inwards and the bottom part up, then roll up tightly into a cylindrical shape (make sure there is not too much mixture in the leaf, this comes with trial and error).

Continue to do this until all the mixture has been used up.  (Tip: if you have more mixture than vine leaves you can use the remainder to stuff some fresh tomatoes or you some onions.  When using an onion, you need to choose some medium sized onions, peel then slit on the side from top to bottom so that you will be able to take a layer off at a time, you need to boil the onion for a few minutes till softened then allow to cool and just peal off layer by layer, do not put too much mixture in about a tablespoon then roll up again).

Place the rolled vine leaves in a large saucepan making sure to pack tightly.  It’s best to start on the outside edges of the saucepan and work in.  (If you have also made onions place those on the bottom of the pan, tomatoes go on top).

Once the koubepia are in the saucepan, cover with a plate (the plate should be big enough to hold them all in place so that they do not escape when boiling.

Add water to the saucepan to come up just above the plate. 

Put saucepan on to boil and once it has started to boil, bring down to simmer.  Cook for 20 minutes.

Remove from heat and allow to cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

Koubepia are nice eater cold or hot.

They are lovely served with salad.  The best salad to serve them with is Glistiria which is another name for purslane (It’s a bit like sweet watercress). Glistiria is added to tomato and cucumber with some dried mint and oil and vinegar).  The mint in the salad really compliments the koubepia.

*Note on vine leaves

If you cannot find vine leaves for this recipe, Swiss chard leaves work very well (just wash and blanch them and use in the same way as vine leaves)

If you are lucky enough to find fresh vine leaves, all the better otherwise you can use preserved vine leaves, they come in brine or in bottles vacuum packed.  If you have fresh vine leaves and you want to preserve them, the easiest way is to just blanch them, allow them to cool then pack the required amount in cling film or cellophane.  Some people just pack them fresh without blanching them.  All the methods work.  If you find you have vine leaves left over after making the koupepia just wrap them in cling film and freeze them, they are OK to re freeze.  Note with fresh vine leaves you need to remove the stalks and then blanching them before filling.


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