with fennel & halloumi
Dolmas, essentially stuffed vine leafs, are part of the Persian cuisine and often served in countries like Armenia, Turkey or Greece. Traditionally, the leafs are stuffed with a rice filling. Though, you can really go as far as your creativity can take you with the filling. So here is a recipe with fennel cooked in Pastis and halloumi. So go and find yourself a pack vacuumized (these seem to be the best) vine leafs in your local Turkish or Persian supermarket and surprise your dinner-mates with this not-so-everyday snack!
1 pack of vine leafs (you will need around 20 leafs for this recipe, 1 leaf per dolma)
1 large or 2 small heads of fennel
3 cloves of garlic
A few sprigs of fresh thyme (or dried)
4 tablespoons Pastis or Pernod
Salt, olive oil, pepper
1 pack (200/250 gr) Halloumi
Preheat the oven to 200 ‘C. Cut the fennel in large chunks or strips, roughly chop the shallots and crush the garlic cloves. Spread on a baking tray with a bit of salt, thyme, pepper and olive oil. Bake in the oven for around 20 minutes, or until tender, but still a little bit of a bite.
In a small saucepan, bring the Pastis to a heat. As soon as it starts steaming, take the pan outside or somewhere safe, then light up the Pastis to flame out the alcohol. Set aside.
In a food processor, blend up the roasted fennel, shallots, garlic together with the Pastis and lemon juice until you have a rough paste. Taste for seasoning.
Time to roll! Cut the Halloumi in strips (I would suggest slicing the peace of halloumi in 3 steaks, then in 7 strips). Take the vine leafs out of its package, then (important) give the leafs a good rinse off, because they can be really salty. Then, lay out one leaf on a board. Place a small spoon of the fennel mixture right in the middle and place a strip of halloumi on top of that. To roll: start by folding in the sides, then simply roll like a cigar, starting from the bottom. Make sure it is reasonably tight. Time to serve these badboys! They keep really well in the fridge, so no problem to prepare a night before! Enjoy.