Notes: Use this mixture to fill both the grape leaves (Sarma) and bell peppers (Dolma).
2 small onions, diced
½ red bell pepper, diced
2 cups white rice, uncooked
1 tablespoon red pepper paste
Black pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons dried mint
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons dill, chopped
2 teaspoons parsley, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh mint, chopped
Coat a skillet with sunflower oil. Add diced onions and sauté for no more than 5 minutes. Add the red pepper and sauté a few more minutes. Add the tomato paste and the red pepper paste to the onions and pepper. Stir until it is well-blended.
Add the uncooked rice to the sautéed vegetables and pastes. Stir and add ½ cup water. Once that is stirred, add black pepper. Add pepper, dried and fresh mint, red pepper flakes, salt, dill and parsley.
Divide the mixture in half. (If you aren’t making Sarma, make sure you have enough peppers to hold the entire amount of mixture. Likewise, if you are making only Sarma, make sure you have enough grape leaves.)
8 green bell peppers
Wash the bell peppers. With a paring knife or other small knife, pierce the pepper at the top near the stem and cut around it. With your thumb, gently poke through sliced part and grab the inside of the stalk to pull it out. The idea is to leave the entire pepper intact so you can fill it. Make sure to remove all seeds.
Take each bell pepper and stuff it with the rice-and-vegetable mixture. Fill it only about ¾ to the top. You don’t want it overflowing.
After filling a pepper, quarter a tomato and place one quarter, skin-side up, on top of the filling in each pepper. Remember that this mixture will also be used for Sarma.
Put about ¼ cup water in a sauce pan. Place stuffed peppers in a sauce pan that is deep enough that the pepper does not stick out the top.
1 dozen large, fresh grape leaves
Wash the grape leaves. In a small sauce pan, boil water and add the leaves. Boil them for about 1 minute. Take them out and let cool.
Put the rough side of a grape leaf down on a cutting board or other flat surface. Take about 1 to 1½ tablespoons of rice and vegetable filling and place it in the middle of the grape leaf. You want the mixture to be spread horizontally.
Fold each side of the leaf in. You don’t want the sides to overlap; the edges should just be touching each other. Fold the bottom up and then roll it neatly like a cigar. The leaf should be tight, but not so tight that it rips.
Keep rolling leaves until the mixture is gone.
If the sauce pan you placed the stuffed peppers in is large enough, take the grape leaves and stack them on top of each other to fill the vacant space.
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Small amount of water
Mix tomato paste with a small amount of water – just enough to make a thin sauce. Drizzle the tomato sauce on top of the peppers and grape leaves in the sauce pan. Then drizzle with olive oil, as well.
Steam peppers and grape leaves on the stovetop for about 30 minutes. You’ll have to check the mixture to make sure the rice is cooked.