Couscous, Basil, Cumin and Tomato Salad

In Vine Leaves with Lemon Yoghurt Dip

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By Peter Gordon

Published 2005

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Based on traditional dolmades (Turkish and Greek stuffed vine leaves, with either a vegetarian or minced lamb stuffing), this recipe is a simple-to-make snack that is delicious served as a cocktail canapé. It’s important that you use the best-quality vine leaves as they can sometimes be quite salty or taste too strongly of vinegar. Use the smaller ones for this dish; or, if you have to use large ones, first cut out their tough veins before rolling them up.


  • 100 g couscous (use the instant type to save time)
  • 150 ml tomato juice, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 4 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and finely chopped
  • handful of basil, finely shredded or torn
  • 12 medium-sized vine leaves, patted dry

For the Lemon Yoghurt Dip

  • 125 ml thick Greek-style yoghurt
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • finely grated zest and juice of 1 medium lemon
  • handful of parsley, finely chopped


Put the couscous in a bowl, pour on the tomato juice and mix well.

In a small pan, heat the olive oil with the cumin seeds until they colour a little, then pour the contents of the pan over the couscous. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and basil, and mix everything together. Cover with cling film and leave for 20 minutes.

Before using the stuffing, mix again thoroughly, then taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Lay one vine leaf on a board at a time, pointed end facing away from you. Place a good spoonful of the mixture in the centre, then form it into a sausage shape running left to right. Roll the end of the leaf closest to you over the mixture, then fold in both sides towards the centre. Roll the ‘sausage’ away from you, keeping it firm. Place on a tray with the seam of the pointed leaf on the bottom to help it keep rolled. Continue to roll the remaining stuffed leaves.

Cover with cling film and place in the fridge for at least an hour to firm up. Serve within 3 hours.

Meanwhile, make the dip by mixing all the ingredients with a little salt to taste.

To Serve

Place the dolmades on a platter with the bowl of dip.