We are fortunate enough to have two sizeable potted fig tree plants. Unbeknownst to me, I was unaware that fig tree leaves were edible. After much research I’m happy to say that I’ve utilized many fruits and leaves for various recipes. My favorite thus far is dolmades.
In the past, I’ve made dolmades using grape leaves, but the flavor, texture, and aroma of the fig leaves make for a great alternative.
Here’s a simple one to try.
• Fig tree leaves (up to 60)
• 2 bunches spring onions
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 2 cloves of garlic, mashed
• Fresh herbs: ½ bunch of coriander, dill, mint, oregano, and parsley (or the ones you like most)
• 2 limes
• 2 lemons
• 2 cups of uncooked rice
• 1 lb ground beef or lamb (omit for vegetarians)
• 2 cups preferred stock (i.e., chicken, beef, or vegetable) or water
• 1/2 cup dry white wine (optional)
• 1 cup olive oil
• 1 large tomato, sliced/ or diced
• Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Blanch the fig leaves for 30 minutes in boiling, salted water. Remove them with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl full of ice cold water. Once cooled, drain in a strainer. Use a small sharp knife to remove any stems or tough veins they may have.
2. Cut all the onions and garlic into very thin slices and sauté with 3-4 tbsp of olive oil in a frying pan at medium heat until they soften and caramelize, about 10 minutes.
3. Add the rice and sauté for at least 2 minutes. Add the ground meat. Add the water and stir, then cover the pot, lower the heat and let it simmer for 5 minutes, until the water is evaporated. Once the filling is ready take it off the heat and set aside.
4. Chop the fresh herbs and add to the pan along with the zest of two limes, salt and black pepper to taste. Mix everything and reserve.
5. Place 3-4 fig leaves in the bottom of a wide low stockpot. Add sliced tomatoes–these will prevent the dolmades from getting burned while cooking. Add the juice of 1 1/2 lemon, and 1 lime. Add the empty lemons and lime into the pot.
Stuffing and Rolling the Dolmades:
1. Place one leaf on a cutting board and add 1 tbsp of filling in the center and start rolling: first from the base of the leaf, then fold the sides, and keep on rolling. Keep the dolmades tight so they don’t open while cooking.
2. Place the dolmades in the stockpot in a row, one next to the other. Fill in as many layers as necessary. Add the rest of the olive oil and cover everything with a plate so the dolmades don’t fall apart while cooking. Cover everything with warm water or stock and bring it to cook at low heat for about 50 minutes.
3. Wait until they cool down and serve along with yogurt sauce; you can keep them in the fridge for about 3-4 days.