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Cabbage Rolls With Lamb and Pine Nuts

Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Yields Serves 6 to 8
Cabbage Rolls With Lamb and Pine Nuts
1

Toast the pine nuts in a small dry skillet over medium heat until they are fragrant, about 5 minutes.

2

In a large mixing bowl, combine the pine nuts, lamb, rice, cilantro, cumin, salt, egg, 1/2 cup of wine and pepper to taste. Stir to mix thoroughly, but don’t overmix or the rolls will be heavy.

3

Leaving the cabbage head whole, cut out as much of the core as you can. Dip the whole cabbage head in a large pan of boiling water until the outer leaves soften, about 30 seconds. Remove the cabbage from the water, carefully remove those outer leaves and set them aside on a towel to drain. Repeat this process until you come to the inner leaves that are very convoluted and thick. Shred those and set them aside.

4

Meanwhile, in a large skillet with a heat-proof handle, cook the shallots in the olive oil over medium heat until they soften, about 3 minutes. Add the shredded cabbage and cook until the cabbage is wilted and just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining 1 cup of wine and cook until it loses its raw smell, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and heat through. The sauce should be slightly soupy.

5

Set 1 medium-sized cabbage leaf flat on a work surface with the core end facing away from you. Cut a “V” in the base, removing the tough part of the core. Place 2 to 3 tablespoons of the meat mixture in the “cup” of the leaf at its tip. Roll once, then fold in the sides and continue rolling. Set aside seam-side down. Repeat using all of the medium-sized leaves, then using the larger leaves, cutting them in half if necessary to make consistent-sized rolls. You will probably have some cabbage leaves left over.

6

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

7

When the tomato sauce is ready, place the prepared cabbage rolls seam-side down in the pan. Go ahead and pack them tightly, and, if necessary, you can even stack one or two on top. Arrange any unused cabbage leaves in a single layer on top of the rolls. Cover the pan with a lid and place it in the oven. Bake until the rolls are thoroughly cooked and fragrant, about 1 1/2 hours.

8

Remove the rolls from the oven and let them cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the loose leaves from the top and then carefully spoon the hot cabbage rolls onto a serving platter. Pour the sauce over the top and serve right away.


Russ Parsons is a former food writer and columnist at the Los Angeles Times.
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