I was SO excited when I had the idea to make this dish. I was trying to think of what I could stuff the cabbage leaves with that will make it more tasty and plentiful, without it being all rice, and I could not wait to work on this recipe to see if indeed the flavors complimented each other, and they sure do. Greek Style Stuffed Cabbage is very lemony, and in this dish, I saute’ green tomatoes, to give the rice mixture a lemony flavor, and in the end, you do not even SEE the tomatoes, because they disintegrate into the rice mixture. If you have eaten cooked green tomatoes, you know that they are very lemony, once cooked, therefore, a great pair with the rice mixture. I substituted brown rice, in place of the white rice, so this is a nice and hearty, healthy dish, all the way around. This recipe can be enjoyed if you are fasting, are a vegetarian, or just enjoy stuffed cabbage, such as our family. Once you stuff your cabbage, you will be left with quite a bit of rice mixture, which you will cook in a separate pan, while your stuffed cabbage rolls are cooking. I hope you enjoy this dish as much as we do. Here we go…..
Step 1- Boil Cabbage Head
In a large pot, add water and 1 large head cabbage, cut out core as best as you can. Boil on medium for about 30 -45 minutes, core side down, until leaves start looking tender, and also flip over once during boiling to ensure top and bottom get soft. Remove from heat, and let cool. Pull leaves apart from cabbage head, one by one, very carefully, and once you get in the middle where they get small, you can save those leaves to chop up into your rice mixture. (You will probably yield about 20 cabbage leaves). Wash pot out, and now use for step 2, while cabbage cools.
Step 2- Saute’ Onions and Green Tomatoes
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (or vegetable oil, if you are fasting)
1 large onion, chopped
8 medium green tomatoes, sliced and diced, core cut out
Saute’ above items in step 2 for about 10 minutes, and then move to step 3.
Step 3- Make Rice Mixture
7 1/2 cups water
3 cups natural whole grain brown rice
(1) 12 ounce can tomato paste
4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons dried, crushed mint
4 teaspoons dried dill weed
3 large, or 6 small green onion stalks, sliced thin
inside part of the boiled cabbage, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
Add all above items to your step 2 sautéed vegetable mixture. Bring to boil, and cook for about 25 minutes. (Our goal here is to try to cook the rice half way, but at the same time, we need to make sure the water is mostly gone, so leave this uncovered, so we can achieve a drier rice to stuff our cabbage leaves with).
Step 4- Stuffing our Cabbage
large plate to place your cabbage rolls on
With cabbage stems facing your stomach, place about 3 to 4 tablespoons of mixture in each leaf (use your judgement, and use more or less filling, depending on how big your leaves are). Start closing your cabbage roll by folding over the bottom part that you stuffed, and then fold over the right and left side of the cabbage. Now it is time to roll it up as best as you can. (Have patience with the stuffing of your cabbage, because each one is unique and made different, so just do the best that you can. If you need to, you can even place another cabbage leaf, on top of a ripped one, and wrap it as best as you can). Place cabbage rolls, seam side down, onto your plate. Keep going until all cabbage is gone.
Step 5- Cook Your Leftover Rice
Transfer left over rice to another pan, with lid, and add about 1-2 cups of water, 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon salt, juice of 1 lemon, and cook on low for about 20 minutes, to finish cooking your rice, or use your judgement, and remove from heat when you feel it is ready, or tastes ready. Because you are using brown rice in this recipe, it will be a little nutty, or chewy.
Step 6- Cook Your Cabbage Rolls
4 cups water
6 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil (or vegetable oil, if you are fasting)
juice of 2 lemons
1 teaspoon salt
1 small heavy plate (to place on top of your rolls to hold them in place while cooking).
Wash out your original large pot, and carefully place cabbage rolls, seam side down, into your pot. Add your water, oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Place plate on top of cabbage, upside down, and cover pot. Cook on medium heat, for about 45-50 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes. Serve with the juice from the bottom of the pan…..delicious and lemony. Serve with more lemon, if desired. You did it !!!! Congratulations !!!! Enjoy the fruits of your labor !!!! 🙂