I had never made cabbage rolls so read loads of recipes in search of inspiration, then in the end I just decided to wing it and make them using a tweaked dolmade filling. I opted to use a Savoy cabbage because the leaves are easy to separate and they’re so prettily textured. The rolls themselves are vegan, but we served them with grilled haloumi, a bit blob of tsatsiki and some lemon wedges – scrumptious!
Makes about 12
1 medium cabbage
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small red onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 scallions (spring onions), white and light green parts, finely sliced
1 cup long grain rice
1 cup vegetable stock for rice
1 cup vegetable stock for baking
Juice of 1 lemon, halved
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
2 tbsp pine nuts
2 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
pinch dried mint
pinch ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste
Use a knife to cut the core out of the base of the cabbage (it doesn’t matter if you don’t get it all) and place it in a deep saucepan. Pour in hot water – if you use Savoy, it will float, otherwise cover it completely. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes.
Carefully remove the cabbage to a work surface (a large plate or shallow mixing bowl helps to catch the water) and use a knife and a pair of tongs to remove as many leaves as will come off easily.
If you don’t have enough leaves, return the cabbage to the simmering water and cook a further 5 minutes then repeat the process.
The heart of the cabbage can be used in other recipes, but you need about 12 large outer leaves for this recipe. Set leaves aside to drain and cool, then pare off the tough ribs from the back of each leaf, being careful not to cut through the leaf.
Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over a medium-low heat and add the onion, garlic and scallions and cook until the onion is translucent.
Stir in the rice until well coated with oil. Stir in 1 cup of broth and the juice of half a lemon, bring to the boil then turn heat to lowest possible and simmer, covered, until the liquid has been absorbed, about 10 minutes.
Remove from the heat and stir in the tomatoes, pine nuts and herbs and spices.
Preheat oven to 180°C (360°F). Lightly oil a small baking dish (I used one that measures 22 × 28cm, about 9 x 11″)
Put a cabbage leaf on the bench so it curves up, with the stalk end closest to you. Put 2 tablespoons of the rice mixture just above the stem, then fold the bottom parts of the leaf up, fold the sides in and roll tightly. Repeat for as much filling as you have.
Pack them tightly into the bottom of the dish. Gently pour over 1 cup of broth and drizzle with the juice of half a lemon. Cover the dish with aluminium foil and put it in the oven for one and a half hours.
Remove foil and let rolls rest a few minutes before serving.