If you love stuffed cabbage rolls, then you’ll love this recipe! It takes the whole dish to a whole new level. I know some people are purists but you’ll be surprised to find there are many cultures including the Middle East that have their own variation of stuffed cabbage or some other kind of leaf. So I took the concept of the traditional Polish stuffed cabbage and used a more flavorful meat like ground lamb and complimenting it using the proper spices for it. Yet another fusion dish perhaps that is worth the prep work, I swear!
I’ll say though, it may sound like a lot of work but it really isn’t. You can make the lamb mixture the day before which is super fast. Then take care of the rest later. One major word of advice though is make sure you have a big, tall pot one you’d use to cook spaghetti in. Also, a hand held strainer that would fit a cabbage head in. This will make removing a piping hot cabbage head so much easier preventing burnt hands.
One last thing, the very end of the leaf can have a very thick spine which makes it difficult sometimes to roll the cabbage leaf. In the picture above you can see I cut an upside-down “V” to remove most of it off. It does make a big difference. Don’t worry about ruining the leaf! If you are confused and have any questions don’t hesitate to ask!
6 – 8 servings
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped (1/4 of it set aside)
3 large garlic cloves, minced
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pound ground lamb
¾ cup jasmine rice, mostly or fully cooked
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cabbage head, bottom core removed
2 bay leaves
½ tablespoon garlic powder
Sea salt and pepper
1 cup tomato puree
2 ½ cups vegetable broth
¼ – ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
In a pan over medium-high heat drizzle the olive oil and sauté the onions, garlic, black pepper, cumin, and cinnamon together until the onions are softened, about 7 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Mix the ground lamb, rice, cooled onion mixture, fresh cilantro and salt thoroughly in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.
Fill a large pot with water and bring to boil. Place the cabbage head carefully into the boiling hot water using a large strainer with a handle for about 5minutes. You want the leaves to appear bright green.
Remove the cabbage head into a large bowl. Peel off some of the softened leaves and place onto a plate covered with paper towels. Place the cabbage back into the boiling water for a few minutes until the next layer of leaves are ready to be peeled. Do this a few times until you peel most of the leaves off the head. Save the damaged and/or outer leaves to cover the bottom and top of the baking dish.
Using a knife cut an upside-down “V” to remove the toughest part of the spine at the bottom of each leaf. This will make rolling the leaves easier. Place each cabbage leaf sideways, spoon about ¼ cup give or take of the lamb mixture onto the bottom part of the leaf. Roll it up and tuck in the sides before completely rolling it up.
Line a 9” x 13” baking dish with imperfect cabbage leaves, place the stuffed cabbage rolls into the baking dish and sprinkle the top with garlic powder, sea salt and pepper. Add the bay leaves and vegetable broth. Top the rolls with tomato puree, the remaining fresh chopped onion and feta crumbles.
Cover everything with remaining leftover cabbage leaves and aluminum foil. Bake at 350 F for about an 1h 15min to 1hr 30min. Everything should be boiling hot.