This morning, the Accidental Locavore pulled out a cabbage from my CSA and it practically begged to be made into stuffed cabbage. It’s a simple dish–a little time consuming, but well worth it. Par-boiling the leaves takes the most time, but it’s easy. Don’t let the lengthy looking directions scare you off.
For the cabbage:
- 1 cabbage
- 1/2 pound of ground lamb
- 2 onions, chopped fine
- 1/2 cup rice
- 1/3 cup each dill, parsley and mint, chopped fine
- 1/2 cup of toasted pine nuts (optional)
- Salt and pepper
- A dash of allspice
For the yogurt sauce:
- 1 cup of whole milk yogurt
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 small can tomato sauce
- 3 cloves of garlic put through a garlic press
- Salt and pepper to taste
Fill your biggest, flattest pan with water and put it on to simmer. Place a few of the cabbage leaves in pan. You need to cover them with water, so do them in batches. Cook until just tender and pliable. Repeat with the rest of the leaves. Put them on a plate, or clean dishtowel to drain and cool.
While the leaves are cooling, mix the rest of the cabbage ingredients until well combined.
Take all the leftover small pieces of cabbage, and the spines, and line the bottom of a large flat pan with them (I use the same pan as for prepping the leaves).
If the cabbage leaves are large, cut them in half the long way (along the spine).
Spoon a heaping tablespoon of filling about an inch above the bottom of the base of the leaf. Fold up the bottom to cover the filling. Fold in the sides, and roll up. As you work, place the rolls in the pan so they’re resting on the seam (the end of the leaf).
Heat on medium-high until boiling, then turn down to a strong simmer for 30-35 minutes until tender.
To make the sauce, mix the yogurt with the egg yolks. Add to a small saucepan with the tomato sauce, garlic and salt and pepper. Stir to combine and heat slowly until warm. Pour over the stuffed cabbage, serve and enjoy!
My verdict: When we lived on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, there was a Turkish place nearby that made great stuffed cabbage. Since we’re far away now, I’ve had to try to duplicate it and this is pretty close. It’s become a favorite and I make it fairly often. Try to choose a cabbage that has big, smooth leaves, it will be much easier to take apart them. Do not do what I did the first time and try to use a red cabbage! It’s just too gnarly. I don’t know what the one I had from my CSA was, but it was round and flat and super easy to separate. The other thing is that you must use whole milk yogurt and mix the egg yolks into it. Otherwise it will break and while it will taste ok, it won’t look very appetizing.