Once the grape leaves are rolled, they're braised in broth and lemon juice. Their fragrant, slightly tart taste adds flavor to the broth, which is thickened with cornstarch to form a dipping sauce for the dolmades. They make great appetizers. Look for grape leaves in the Mediterranean section of your supermarket.
1 cup coarsely chopped fennel (about 1 bulb)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped onion
1/4 cup coarsely chopped green onions
1/2 pound ground round
2 tablespoons uncooked medium-grain rice
2 tablespoons uncooked bulgur
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1 large tomato, cored and cut in half crosswise (about 1 pound)
1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or dash of crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
30 bottled large grape leaves
1 (15.75-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
3 tablespoons chopped fresh or 1 tablespoon dried dill
Lemon wedges (optional)
How to Make It
Combine first 3 ingredients in a food processor, and process until minced. Combine the fennel mixture with beef, rice, bulgur, and oil. Grate tomato halves over mixture; discard skin. Sprinkle beef mixture with pepper and salt; stir to combine.
Rinse grape leaves under cold water; drain and pat dry with paper towels. Remove stems, and discard. Spoon 1 rounded tablespoon of beef mixture onto the center of each grape leaf. Bring 2 opposite points of leaf to center, and fold over filling. Beginning at 1 short side, roll up leaf tightly, jelly-roll fashion. Repeat procedure with remaining grape leaves.
Place stuffed grape leaves close together, seam sides down, in a Dutch oven coated with cooking spray. Add broth and juice; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes. Carefully remove dolmades from pan. Combine cornstarch and water. Stir cornstarch mixture into broth; bring to a boil; cook for 1 minute. Stir in dill. Serve with dolmades. Garnish with lemon wedges, if desired.