Monday, March 21, 2011

Lebanese Stuffed Cabbage with Pomegranate & the SuperMoon

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stuffed Cabbage with Pomegranate Syrup

I have a fascination with rolling and stuffing things, well in particular vegetables.  It might be a Mediterranean thing, still not sure though.  In Lebanon, we have stuffed grape leaves , stuffed cousa squash, stuffed eggplants, stuffed squid, etc ... and stuffed cabbage, which may not sound so appetizing at first glance, but actually is delicious.  The thing is though you have to tame the leaves into subordination, mainly by soaking in simmering water.  

Cabbage

Supermoon

Before I get back to stuffing the cabbage, I have to share this pretty cool picture of the Moon from Saturday.  I'm sure you've already seen a few of these, and wasn't it a spectacular sight?  I love watching the skies.  I remember when living in Vail, Colorado, the Moon looked massive all the time, but this one was just perfect.  So back to the cabbage.  This is my current variation on a traditional recipe, usually stuffed with rice, some tomatoes, and parsley or rice and ground lamb or beef, and a handful of whole garlic cloves tossed in the pot.  This would be served hot or room temperature with pita bread and tarator sauce (a garlic/tahini/lemon sauce)

Rolled Cabbage Duo

Stuffed Cabbage Side View

Lebanese Stuffed Cabbage with Pomegranates
1 head of cabbage
1 head of celery
3/4 cup short grain brown rice, steamed
1/4 cup pomegranate arils
1 packed cup fresh spinach, chopped (one of the savoyed variety)*
1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
1 tsp olive oil + 2 tbsp for mixing the stuffing
4 oz ground grass-fed beef (you can also use bison or lamb)
1/4 tsp allspice berries, ground
1/8 tsp cinnamon
Dash of ground mace
1/2 tsp sea salt - divided in half (between the ground meat and the other ingredients)
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Pomegranate molasses to serve 
Yogurt to serve (optional)
Tarator (Tahini) Sauce to serve (optional)

* The savoyed varieties of spinach are darker in color, with crinkled leaves and crisper texture.  They usually grow in the colder weather months.  I think I had the bloomsdale variety which works great in cooking.  For more info on the varieties, head this way.

Preparing the cabbage:  Bring a pot of water to a boil and hold at simmer. Cut the base of the cabbage off, start peeling the leaves gently, trimming some of the thicker stalk off.  Place the leaves in the simmering water for a few minutes until pliable enough to roll.  Remove carefully with tongs and set aside.

Preparing the ground beef:  Over medium heat, place 1 tbsp of olive oil in a skillet, add beef, 1/4 tsp salt, allspice, cinnamon, mace and pepper if using.  Sauté until done, but not overcooked.
Brown rice takes longer to cook than white rice. I like to pre-steam it to al dente and finish the cooking process with the rest of the meal.  In a mixing bowl, place the cooled rice, spinach, parsley, pomegranate arils, cooked beef, the other 1/4 salt and 2 tbsp olive oil and mix well to blend.

Rolling the leaves:  Place 1 or 2 tbsp of stuffing on each leaf closer to the base of the leaf (near the stalk).  Fold over the stuffing and tightly roll towards the tip of the leaf.  Repeat process until all done. Line the bottom of a pot with the celery stalks.  Place the cabbage rolls on top, lined side by side in the opposite direction of the celery stalks.  If you have a second layer, place them in the opposite direction of the first cabbage layer.  This keeps everything intact.  Gently pour water over the rolls just until covered, sprinkle some salt to taste, cover pot and let simmer gently until all water is gone, approximately 30-40 minutes.  Serve hot or room temp with a drizzle of pomegranate molasses.


4 comments:

  1. Your food looks like artwork, so appealing! Thanks for sharing your food and your beautiful photos.

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  2. Your recipe is wonderful; I tried a similar version a while back but I get frustrated working with cabbage that I get in the Dallas area; the leaves are too tough and not as tender as I would like. Love your photos too, you are a true artist.

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  3. All your pictures are beautiful. It was cloudy in Greece on Saturday so we didn't see the full moon. Your stuffed cabbage sound delicious.

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