Friday, 11 August 2017


“ ‘The time has come,’ the walrus said, ‘to talk of many things: Of shoes and ships - and sealing wax - of cabbages and kings.’ ” - Lewis Carroll 

In Winter, one of the traditional Greek dishes we enjoy having is stuffed cabbage rolls (λαχανοντολμάδες – lahanodolmádes). These are made with as tender a large cabbage as you can find; what you need are large leaves without too many hard veins. In practice we have found that young, tender savoy cabbage is the best, but it really depends on what you can lay your hands on.

The other secret is using a yoghurt-based sauce rather than the traditional egg and lemon sauce, making them rather more savoury. We have tried making the vegetarian version, but this dish really hankers for meat - a good, lean beef mince being the best. We have tried it with pork mince, but it wasn’t as much to our taste.

Some people do not use tomatoes in the stuffing, but we have found that using a can of peeled tomatoes increases the tastiness of the dish and gives it a little more depth. Purists would like this dish “white”, but we opt for taste over looks. 

Lahanodolmádes (Stuffed Cabbage Rolls) 
Ingredients - Rolls 
1 large, tender cabbage
500 g of minced lean beef steak
3/4 cup calrose rice
1 large white onion, grated
2 Spring onions, cleaned and chopped up finely
1 cup chopped mint
1 cup chopped parsley
400 g can of peeled whole tomatoes (blended to form a purée)
3/4 cup of olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
Salt, pepper
1 Litre beef stock 
400 g Greek yoghurt
2 tbsp French mustard
Salt, pepper to taste
1 tsp ground coriander seed
1/2 tsp ground cumin
A couple of squeezes of lemon juice and the zest of half a lemon. 

With a large, sharp knife remove the stalk from the cabbage, going quite deeply and cutting out an inverted cone into the heart of the cabbage about 10 cm diameter and the tip 10 cm deep. Discard this stalk. Take a very large kettle enough to contain the cabbage, place the whole cabbage, stalk-side up into the kettle and put in enough water to cover the cabbage.

Boil the cabbage until it is fairly tender. Remove from heat, carefully drain the water and using heatproof gloves remove the cabbage and let it drain. Meanwhile prepare the stuffing.

Put the oil in a skillet and once heated up, stir the rice through, until it is coated with oil and heated right through. Do not overcook or burn. Let it cool. In a large bowl, put the mince, breaking it up thoroughly and mix in the rice and all the oil from the skillet. Mix well, and add the herbs and spices, the onions and the tomato purée. Mix thoroughly. You may need to add a little more oil if the mixture looks a little too watery.

Prepare a large cooking pot by greasing it with a little butter, both bottom and sides. Make ready the cabbage leaves, by stripping each leaf off the cabbage, and on a cutting board, carefully cut away in a wedge, the central vein and tough area around its bottom, leaving two fairly large, even pieces of tender leaf oneither side. Reserve the central vein wedges.

Repeat for all leaves, until you reach the heart of the cabbage (which is to be discarded). Take enough of the central vein wedges you have reserved and line the bottom of the pot with one layer of cabbage, pieces (this is to prevent burning the cabbage rolls on the bottom of the pot when you cook them).

Stuff each cabbage leaf piece by putting about a tablespoonful of the filling in the bottom part of the leaf and then folding the sides into the centre over the stuffing, rolling towards the top edge of the leaf to form a roll. Lay carefully on the lined bottom of the pan, arranging the rolls neatly so they form a tightly packed layer on the bottom of the pan.

Repeat with as many new layers of rolls until you have used up all of the stuffing. Lay some more reserved cabbage wedges over the top of the cabbage rolls and carefully pour in the beef stock. The carefully place a shallow, heatproof dish in the pot over the cabbage rolls to weigh them down during cooking. The dish should be approximately as large as the opening of the pot. Partly cover the pot with its lid, allowing the steam to escape. Cook over medium heat for about 60-90 minutes or until the rolls are cooked. Add a little water if needed during cooking.

Prepare the dressing in a saucepan, by mixing thoroughly the mustard and yoghurt, adding the salt and spices, the lemon juice and lemon zest. Heat gently whilst constantly stirring. Do not overheat as the yoghurt may curdle. Serve the rolls and put the dressing in a bowl so each diner can add as much of it as they like on the rolls. 

This post is part of the Food Friday meme.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting version of cabbage rolls; surprising to read about some ingredients added, but in the end, the cabbage rolls looks so very similar with the ones in our traditional cuisine. Our homemade recipe
    contains the following ingredients: 2-3 (pickled) sour cabbage (heads); (we will need the cabbage leaves for this recipe and chopped cabbage).
    - 100 g or 1/2 cup rice, uncooked (white);
    - 1 kg chopped meat pork or beef, according to taste;
    - 2-3 onions, medium;
    - 2 carrots (add optional);
    - 4 tablespoons vegetable oil to saute onion;
    - salt and ground black pepper;
    - thyme, paprika or chilli powder;
    - bay leaves;
    - dill (dried);
    - pork ham or smoked bacon;
    - Black peppercorns;
    - 5 tablespoons tomato sauce;
    - some boiled water. (
    But It is lovely to discover your recipe. Amazing!
    A nice inspired weekend!