For the filling:
To prep and stuff the shells:
To assemble the pot:
* This is the way my family has been making dolma since we immigrated to the US in the 1970s. Before this, we would make a sauce that happened to have pretty much the same ingredients as salsa roja, so this is a great way to save time without sacrificing quality.
** If you’re using poblanos, you might end up with a few extremely spicy ones, in which case you may want to buy mild salsa for the filling instead of spicy. Or just go with it if you like a lot of heat! You can use any similarly shaped peppers here—they just need to be long and narrow, and not too-too-spicy.
*** If you don’t have grape leaves, you can substitute more cabbage leaves. We do this when they’re not in season and we’ve run out of frozen ones.
**** We use V8 brand vegetable juice, which has a decent amount of sodium, but if you use a low-sodium one, or if you juice your own vegetables, you will need to add quite a bit of salt, to taste. You can use tomato juice instead, but vegetable juice has a lot more flavor.
***** If you run out of space, get a small saucepan and layer the additional rolls in it, and save some of the liquid for it. Also, if you don’t nest everything together closely, you will need to use a lot more liquid, and then you will end up with water-logged dolma. It’s really important to try to fit them together like puzzle pieces, but without mashing them down and tightly packing them in, otherwise it won’t turn out right.
Make ahead: If you’d like to make this ahead, you can prep and stuff everything, and leave it in a pot in the refrigerator overnight (don’t add the liquid yet). When you’re ready to cook it, bring the liquid to a simmer, pour over the dolma, and cook as usual. It might take a few extra minutes to come to (and stay at) a simmer, since it’s starting out colder.