Cabbage Leaf Rolls
Cabbage leaf rolls are one of the best comfort foods and a favorite. Most of the Middle East, Italy and Balkan countries have a different form of a stuffed cabbage roll with beef and rice. You will find a different version of it in Eastern and Western China as well as Iran and some northern European countries.
Usually the core of the cabbage is cut halfway through to loosen up some of the leaves. The cabbage is then immersed entirely in a pot of boiling water to soften and loosen up the leaves completely. Then the leaves are drained and left out to be cooled.
Meanwhile, the stuffing is prepared and each leaf is spread out and the core is cut (see picture). One tablespoon to one and a half tablespoon is laid out in the middle of the cabbage leaf, leaving about ¼ inch gap on each side and the leaf is then rolled like a taco. Arrange the rolls in a pot in layers, adding the garlic and mint and hot water to cover and cook for about 45 minutes making sure that the water is not totally absorbed. If needed, add more water. You should have liquid about quarter to halfway full when done.
To make life easier, I found that using jarred cabbage leaves found in specialty markets works for this recipe as well, just use half the required lemon juice in recipe if using jarred cabbage leaves.
1 lb 12% fat ground beef
1 ½ cups short grain rice
1 tablespoon pepper paste
6 ounce can tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon all spice
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon red aleppo pepper
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses or juice of 2 lemons
1 large jar of cabbage leaves or 1 medium white cabbage (leaves detached using the method described above)
Mix all the ingredients of the stuffing and set aside.
After rolling the cabbage leaves with the stuffing, arrange them neatly in a pot.
Mash the garlic cloves. Mix the mint with the cloves and top the top layer of the cabbage. Leave rolls in the pot. Add water till covered and cook 45 minutes.