(makes approx. 36)
1 large cabbage
1/2 cup olive oil
6 medium onions, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 heaping Tbsp. of tomato paste
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 lb. lean ground pork
1 lb. of boneless ham, finely chopped (or use food processor)
1 tsp. of dried Greek oregano
pinch of Krokos Kozani (Greek saffron)
2 cups long-grain rice
2-3 tsp. of sea salt
1 1/2 tsp. ground pepper
1- 796ml can of diced tomatoes
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil with a little salt. Meanwhile, remove the outer leaves of the cabbage and the hard stalk (root) of the cabbage. Wash it and put into the boiling water for 10 minutes. Carefully remove the cabbage from the water by using a large fork.
- Using some tongs, carefully peel away each leaf and unwrap the head of boiled cabbage. Remove the the bottom part of the main rib from each leaf. Repeat this process with all your leaves and reserve.
- Bring a large saucepan to medium-high heat, add the olive oil, onions and garlic. Simmer to soften the onions for about 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste, stir in and cook for about 2-3 minutes then add parsley, oregano, stir in and take off the heat.
- Add the ground beef, pork, ham, rice and saffron and mix well with a wooden spoon. Now add 2 tsp. of salt plus 1 tsp of ground pepper and mix well. Form a little meatball and fry and taste-test. Add more salt and pepper to taste.
- Take a cabbage leaf and place 2 Tablespoons of the meat mixture near the bottom of the leaf. Fold the two ends of the leaf inwards and roll it up into a long narrow shape. (do not roll too tightly as the rice will expand and may break your leaves)
- Place some spare cabbage leaves on the bottom of your roasting pan and start placing the stuffed cabbage leaves in concentric circles.
- Place some more loose cabbage leaves over the stuffed cabbage and you may even place a heavy plate on top to prevent them from breaking open.
- Add the diced tomatoes, 3 cups of low sodium chicken (or vegetable) hot stock into the roasting pan (enough liquid to cover the cabbage by 1 inch), cover with the lid and place into a pre-heated 350F oven (lower rack) for 90 minutes.
- Take out of the oven, taste a cabbage roll to see if the rice is done – adjust seasoning. If you would like a smoother sauce, carefully tilt the roasting pan and pour out the sauce and purée in a blender and pour back into the pan.
- Serve the cabbage rolls immediately or reserve for later and simply reheat.