Grape leaves filled with barley, apricots, walnuts and ground chicken are a Canadian version of dolmades, a Mediterranean favourite. Purchase brined grape leaves in most European delis or the imported food section of your grocery store. Enjoy dolmades as an appetizer with prepared tzatziki, or as a side dish with grilled meats.


  • ¼ cup (60 mL) chopped walnuts
  • 36 large grape leaves
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) canola oil
  • 1 lb (500 g) ground chicken
  • ½ cup (125 mL) finely chopped onion
  • ¼ cup (60 mL) chopped dried apricots
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup (250 mL) pearl or pot barley
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) dried mint leaves
  • ½ tsp (2 mL) ground cinnamon
  • 3 cups (750 mL) low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsp (30 mL) lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).

Spread walnuts in a small baking dish and place in preheated oven. Turn off oven and toast for 5 minutes, stirring once. Remove and set aside.

Remove grape leaves from brine and carefully pull apart into individual leaves. Some will tear; save these. You will need about 30 whole leaves. Place individual leaves in a large bowl. Fill with cool water and rinse gently; repeat two more times to remove salt.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add ground chicken; cook for 3 minutes, stirring to break up into small chunks. Add toasted walnuts, onion, apricots, garlic, barley, mint and cinnamon. Cook until chicken is no longer pink and barley is lightly toasted. Remove from heat. Cool mixture.

Meanwhile, use 5 or 6 leaves (those with tears) to line the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch (23 x 33 cm) baking dish.

Return oven temperature to 350°F (180°C).

To fill dolmades:
Place one grape leaf at a time on a clean surface, glossy side down, stem end to the bottom edge. Trim stems off if attached.

Place 1 heaping Tbsp (15 mL) of the chicken barley mixture on the bottom third of the leaf. Fold in outer edges over mixture; roll up loosely, folding in sides, to the narrow top of the leaf. Place in prepared pan, seam-side down. Roll remaining dolmades, and arrange tightly together in the pan.

Pour broth slowly over stuffed leaves, allowing broth to sink into packed dolmades. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 1 hour. Sprinkle lemon juice over dolmades. Cover again with foil and let stand for 10 minutes before removing from the pan, being careful to prevent tearing.

Makes 30 dolmades.

Nutritional Information (per dolmade): Calories: 64; Protein: 4 g; Carbohydrate: 7 g; Fibre: 1 g; Sugars: 1 g; Fat: 2.5 g; Saturated Fat: 0.5 g; Trans Fat: 0 g; Cholesterol: 14 mg; Sodium: 162 mg; Potassium: 122 mg