Recipe: Turkish Inspired Stuffed Cabbage

Accidental Locavore Stuffed CabbageEven though it’s in the 90’s here, the Accidental Locavore decided in the cool of the morning to make stuffed cabbage. It’s not hard, just a little time consuming. Par-boiling the leaves takes the most time (besides cooking them), but it’s certainly easy. Don’t let the lengthy looking directions scare you off.

  • Core the cabbage and carefully remove the leaves until they get too small and gnarly to work with.
  • Fill your biggest, flattest pan with water and put it on to boil. I added salt to the water, but don’t know how necessary it is. Force of habit.
  • Place a few of the cabbage leaves in the water. You need to cover them with water, so don’t do more than 5 at a time. Boil 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 cooking I mixed together:

  • 1/2 pound of ground lamb (from local grass fed lambs).
  • 2 onions chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup rice (long grain)
  • 1/3 cup each dill, parsley, mint (all from my garden, saving a trip to the local supermarket), chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup of toasted pine nuts (totally optional)
  • Salt, pepper, and a dash of allspice
  • Mix all these together until well combined
  • When the leaves are done, cut the spines out of the leaves. If they’re big leaves, cut them in half the long way.
  • 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, easy right?
  • 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 the leaves).
  • Place the rolls in the pan so they’re resting on the seam (the end of the leaf).
  • Dot with butter, about 2 TBSP, and fill the pan with water to cover the rolls.
  • Place a large plate on top to hold them down.
  • Heat on medium heat until boiling, then turn down to a strong simmer for 30-35 minutes until tender.

I like a yogurt sauce with these, and now that I know how to work with yogurt, it’s really easy. The two things you must do are: use whole milk yogurt. Any low fat yogurt will separate. Trust me. The other thing is to add egg yolks to the yogurt. For about 1 cup of yogurt, I used 2 egg yolks. Beat them slightly to combine them, and stir into the yogurt until combined.

For the sauce:

  • 1 small can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup of whole milk yogurt mixed with 2 egg yolks
  • 3 cloves of garlic put through a garlic press
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan and heat slowly until warm, and the sauce is combined. You can pour over the stuffed cabbage or even warm the cabbage in the sauce. Enjoy!

A lot of people have great recipes for stuffed cabbage. What’s yours?


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