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Appetizers, Vegetarian

Grilled haloumi-stuffed grape leaves with pomegranate sauce

Istanbul By 11 p.m., the street theater on Nevizade Street, a narrow lane lined with outdoor restaurants around Istanbul's fish market, works up to a kind of Felliniesque mayhem. Flower sellers push big thorny roses at passersby's noses, while a ... Read more

Total time: 25 minutes | Makes 12 dolmas
  • 12 grape leaves preserved in brine
  • 12 (3-inch by one-half-inch) logs haloumi cheese, one-half-inch thick (queso blanco can be substituted)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons mild olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar

Step 1Place the grape leaves in a bowl. Add boiling water to cover and soak for about 2 minutes. Taste, and if the leaves still taste assertively briny, soak for few minutes more. Rinse under cold water, drain and pat dry with paper towels. Heat the grill to medium.

Step 2Place a grape leaf shiny side down on a work surface with the stem facing you. Trim off the stem. Place a log of haloumi across the bottom end of the leaf and fold the bottom over it. Fold in the sides and roll up like a cigar to make a dolma. Make sure there are no tears in the leaf, or the cheese will ooze out. Continue until you have used all the grape leaves.

Step 3Brush the dolmas lightly with one-half tablespoon olive oil. Grill them until they are lightly charred and the cheese is beginning to soften but is not oozing out, about 1 1/2 minutes per side. Transfer the dolmas to a plate and let them cool for about 10 minutes.

Step 4Meanwhile, whisk the remaining oil with the pomegranate molasses, water and sugar.

Step 5To serve, drizzle a white serving plate with the pomegranate mixture and arrange the dolmas on top, drizzling with some extra sauce if desired.

Note: Haloumi cheese is available at Middle Eastern markets. Haloumi and grape leaves can both be quite salty; if your brand of leaves is too briny, soak them longer or blanch in boiling water for 1 minute.
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