the taste space

Cherry Collard Dolmas (Turkish Collard Leaves Stuffed with Rice, Beans and Fresh Cherries -Visneli Yaprak Sarma)

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on September 12, 2012

This has been the summer of cherries.

Local cherries arrived early, so by the beginning of July I had already made Almost Raw Chocolate Banana Crepes with Almond-Coconut Cream and Cherries, then balsamic cherries migrated onto a sandwich with rosemary cashew cheese and arugula, and I pickled a bunch in a five-spice spiked vinegar. I kept on thinking cherry season was over, but they continued to be on sale late into the summer. How can you say no to cherries at 99c/lb?

So, yes, I have yet another cherry recipe.

Earlier this summer, we thought I might have been able to join Rob in New York for a mini-vacation. We researched where we wanted to stay (airBnB!), what we would do (opera!) and what we would eat (Pure Food & Wine!). My favourite raw resto to date, it would have been a nice treat. I even scoured their menu to see what I wanted to order. I found it:

Cauliflower Cous Cous with Sour Cherry Dolmas with pistachio, almond, dried fruits, mint, Moroccan tomato jus

Sounds heavenly, no?

Turns out that when we went to book my airline tickets, we were not able to get the flights we wanted. So for the long weekend, Rob went to New York for work, and I stayed at home.

With a bit of extra time on my hands, I decided to tackle my own cherry dolmas. In retrospect, a raw version would likely have been quicker, but I opted for a more traditional cooked dolma.  As traditional as cherry dolmas can be. When I visited Turkey, I was not wowed by dolmas. They were not on my radar. However, traditional dolma recipes typically include savoury spices like cinnamon and allspice, so I was sold. Instead of pine nuts, I used pistachios. Instead of traditional raisins, I used a touch of currants.  The majority of the sweetness comes from the cherries.

Instead of a rice-based dish, I beefed it up by including white beans. Doing so made me have a lot more filling than I had initially bargained for, so I scrapped the grape leaves and plucked collards from my garden instead. With a cooked filling, a cooked collard seemed  more appropriate, instead of my typical raw collard wraps. Pre-steaming the collard leaves made them much easier to wrap the filling and keep their shape.

The dolmas are simmered in a cherry-infused broth to complete the cooking of the rice. If you cooked your rice all the way through the first time, I think you could save yourself the final cooking step. It was a pretty labour intensive recipe but at least I didn’t have to wrap 100s of dolmas in tiny grape leaves. ;)

In any case, these were so flavourful, they were definitely worth the effort. The rice filling alone was delicious, so if you just want to make that, I understand. :)

I made the cranberry-lemon-tahini dip for the dolmas but I didn’t find it needed a dip. In fact, the sweet on sweet clashed. If you want something to serve it with, a plain yogurt would be nice.

With all my cherry fodder this summer, Rob came back with a surprise present for me from New York: a cherry pitter!

This is my submission to this month’s Herbs on Saturday, to this week’s Weekend Wellness and to Simple and In Season.

Cherry Collard Dolmas
(Collard Leaves Stuffed with Rice, Beans and Fresh Cherries -Visneli Yaprak Sarma)
Adapted from Delicious Istanbul

2 tbsp pistachios
1 cup brown rice, rinsed and drained (I used a medium-grain rice)
1 tbsp oil of choice
3 medium size onions, chopped
1 tbsp dried currants
1.5 tsp salt
2 tsp agave or your choice of sweetener
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1/3 cup mint, finely chopped (stems reserved)
1/2 cup dill, finely chopped (stems reserved)
1.5 cups cooked white beans (I used Yellow Eye Beans)
350 g cherries, pitted, half chopped in half and half pureed, divided
1.75 cups water for rice
16 collard leaves (or 60 marinaded grape vine leaves, such as these)
1 cup water for dolma
1 tbsp olive oil

1. In a large pot with a lid, heat over medium heat. Toast pistachios until brown. Add oil and onion and saute onions until translucent, around 10 minutes. Add rice and stir to evenly coat with the oil. Add the currants, salt, agave, cinnamon, allspice and toast until lightly fragrant, just a few seconds. Add in 1/3 cup pureed cherries and 1.75 cups water. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes, or until rice is soft and water is absorbed. The rice doesn’t need to be cooked all the way since you will simmer it again in the leaves. Add in chopped mint, dill and beans and mix well. Set aside, covered, for about 20 minutes, or until able to handle with hands.

2. Meanwhile, prepare your collard leaves by removing the inner tough stem. Reserve stems.Prepare a steamer and steam the collards for 2 minutes. You can choose not to steam them but this makes them easier to roll and keep their shape. You can also steam the grape leaves but I don’t really think that is necessary.

3. In your largest skillet, with a lid, scatter stems from mint, dill and collards/grape leaves on the bottom. This is to elevate the dolmas slightly while still infusing the broth with flavour.

4. Prepare your dolmas by placing 1 tbsp of filling in a grape leaf or 1/4 cup of filling into each collard wrap. For the grape leaves, place the leaf’s shiny side down, with the filling towards the base of the leaf, near the stem. (Photo instructions here). Roll the sides in first, then roll away towards the tip of the leaf. It is the same for the collard, just use more filling, depending on the size of your leaf. Place the rolled dolmas into the skillet, tightly next to each other. If you don’t have enough room, you can also make a second layer.

5. I honestly think you could stop here and still eat the dolmas, especially if you have cooked your rice through as well as the collard leaves. In any case, I decided to continue to cook mine. Combine the remainder of the cherry puree with 1 cup of water and 1 tbsp of olive oil. Pour this overtop the dolmas. Scatter pitted cherries overtop. Place a flat plate (heat-proof) overtop the the dolma, place a lid overtop the skillet and simmer for 30 minutes or until the liquid mostly evaporates. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Served chilled or at room temperature (I preferred them at room temperature). Scatter the cooked cherries overtop.

Serves 6.

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29 Responses

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  1. Gabby @ the veggie nook said, on September 12, 2012 at 6:46 AM

    It’s funny, I tried to make something really similar to this a few weeks ago (although not nearly as creative with the cherries!) and it turned out not nearly as nice- filling falling everywhere! I wish I was as talented as you ;)

    • janet @ the taste space said, on September 12, 2012 at 7:36 AM

      I have more recipes to share… perhaps it was the rice you used? Most recipes call for long-grain rice but I used short/medium-grain brown rice instead… No problems with it sticking. :)

  2. Karen @ Lavender and Lovage said, on September 12, 2012 at 7:19 AM

    I lived in N Cyprus for a while, and so I know and love Dolmas as well as lovely Turkish cherries…..but this combination is just so elegant and innovative! A Fabulous entry into Herbs on Saturday – thanks so much! Karen

  3. sprint2thetable said, on September 12, 2012 at 8:55 AM

    I love the idea of a sweet dolma! I’ve never made my own before… sound like it’s time to try!!

  4. Vicky said, on September 12, 2012 at 11:49 AM

    This looks gorgeously tasty! I love this recipe!

  5. Joanne said, on September 12, 2012 at 6:47 PM

    I wish I could find cherries that cheap!! Jealous. I am loving the idea of a sweet-ish dolma though….need to figure out what winter veggies or fruits I could use!

  6. Simply Life (@SimplyLifeBlog) said, on September 12, 2012 at 10:13 PM

    I would never think to use collard greens like this! what a unique idea!

  7. Ksenija @ Health Ninja said, on September 13, 2012 at 3:04 AM

    This dish looks sooo delicious. What a surprising add to the cherries are, they have to taste great with it.

  8. Lisa said, on September 13, 2012 at 3:27 PM

    Well, that did it. Now I am starving. For sure this is on my list of recipes to try. I so enjoy seeing your recipes and love your photos.

  9. Katie Bryson (@cookingkt) said, on September 14, 2012 at 9:52 AM

    What a beautifully photographed and unusual dish – it looks really autumnal with the leaves and gorgeous dark cherries. Thanks for linking up to Simple and in Season.

  10. Jayne said, on September 14, 2012 at 12:23 PM

    What a tasty sounding recipe! I love the idea of using collard leaves!

  11. [...] Cherry Collard Dolmas from The Taste Space. I love dolmas, and thought the inclusion of cherries here was totally intriguing! [...]

  12. Mich - Piece of Cake said, on September 21, 2012 at 5:05 AM

    Your stuffed collard greens look really delicious. I think it’s a great meal idea.

  13. gena said, on September 22, 2012 at 8:20 AM

    These look fantastic, and so tremendously creative!

  14. Flavors of the Sun said, on September 23, 2012 at 5:25 PM

    These look soooo wonderful. And different. I love Turkish food and its flavor principles. thanks for sharing

  15. [...] the taste space – steam, bake, boil, shake! With Janet – Cherry Collard Dolmas (Turkish Collard Leaves Stuffed with Rice, Beans and Fresh Cherries -Visneli Y… – “With a bit of extra time on my hands, I decided to tackle my own cherry dolmas. In [...]

  16. Katharine@Leeksand Limoni said, on October 2, 2012 at 1:29 PM

    These look and sound delicious, I can’t wait to try making them!

  17. [...] Taste Space in Canada had a long weekend on her hands and ended up making these wonderful looking cherry colmard dolmas, a Turkish inspired recipe of collard leaves stuffed with rice, beans and fresh cherries. That [...]

  18. [...] this fall, I made Cherry Collard Dolmas. A little bit more non-traditional because I was lazy and used larger collard leaves but also [...]

  19. [...] and Roasted Chickpea Salad with a Cinnamon Vinaigrette, Moroccan Barley and Pea Shoot Salad, Cherry Collard Dolmas) and this was pretty good, too. I won’t gush its praises but it was fit for a weeknight meal [...]

  20. Rachael (@rubbercowgirl) said, on February 25, 2013 at 8:04 AM

    Yum! I am going to try making a winter version with dried cherries.

  21. […] Cherry Collard Dolmas from The Taste Space. I love dolmas, and thought the inclusion of cherries here was totally intriguing! […]


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