Recently, circumstances conspired so that I had the means to create a new recipe, using ingredients I don’t usually have on hand. I had a package of thawed smoked salmon (thank you, friend who moved and cleaned out her freezer into mine!) The other day I noticed that goat’s cheese was on sale at my local supermarket. I had some fresh dill-infused olive oil leftover from a salad dressing from a few nights ago. Grape leaves are easily available at my local Community Gardens. Naturally, thinking of these ingredients, I made some Altered Dolmades.

I have never made a dolmade before, but from my fully adequate experience in eating them, I know they usually have rice inside. I am trying to eat fewer carbohydrates, so I thought to replace the rice with cheese. Yes!

rolling up the yumminess

So, here is a delicious treat to fix up in very little time. Please note everything is changeable, and you can add anything you want (hot peppers, olives, capers, other cheeses, little bits of bacon…) If you like your rice, you could mix some cooked brown or white rice into the cheese mixture. One thing I really wish I’d had for this was some lemon. I would have squirted it overtop before baking…

*Cheese mix: 1 tube of goat cheese (I used “herbed”), two sprigs of green onions chopped up fine, two tablespoons of crushed almonds, a sprinkle of salt

*Olive oil/dill mix: a couple of sprigs of Dill, settled into a small bowl (about 1/4 cup) of olive oil, and a few grinds of pepper. (Please note in the photographs, I’d used too much oil. Try about 1/4 cup, or even a little less.)

*1 small packet of wild smoked salmon, thin slices

*about 20-30 grape leaves (smaller ones, still clear and bright in colour and translucency)

METHOD: I laid out the grape leaves so that about four to six of them were on my work surface, overlapping. I then took a piece of the fish, and rolled it around a spoonful of the cheese mixture. Then I blobbed a little more of the cheese mixture onto the outside of this fish-tube, and rolled it up in the grapeleaves.

I used a little casserole dish to lay them out in. Once then were all there (I had enough to make about six dolmades) I drizzled the olive oil/dill overtop.

I used the leftover oil afterwards for yet more salad dressing.

BAKE in a moderate oven ’til done (about half an hour? or more or less… everything is edible raw so you can’t undercook.) When I say done, I mean the smell is unbearably delicious, and the grapeleaves are very dark.

If I’d had any leftover grapeleaves, I’d have simply added them to my salad.

I’ll be doing this one again!

Natasha Henderson, Montreal

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