Turkish Stuffed Cabbage Rolls – filled with ground lamb,pine nuts and fragrant spices, bathed in the most delicious Turkish Tomato Sauce. This can be made ahead and reheated for your special gathering. Keto and low carb adaptable!
1/4 cup dried apricots, chopped (or sub dried barberries, currants or raisins) ALL OPTIONAL
Garnish: fresh Italian parsly, dill or mint, a few toasted pinenuts, and serve with optional yogurt.
Soak Bulgar Wheat in bowl of cool water, 20 mins.
Blanch Cabbage: Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil. Add the cabbage and blanch until tender, about 10-12 minutes. Cool. Alternatively you can peel off the cabbage leaves and blanch the leaves in batches for 1-2 minutes. You can also microwave the whole cabbage, covered tightly , in a bowl with 1 cup water for 10 mintues. You can also freeze the whole cabbage, then thaw.
Preheat oven to 350F
Make the Turkish Tomato Sauce: In a large saute pan, over med-high heat, saute the onion in 2 tablespoons oil until tender, 3-4 mins. Lower heat to medium, add garlic, saute 2-3 mintues until fragrant. Add crushed tomatoes (and all the juices) sugar, spices, salt and broth . Stir, bring to a simmer for 2 minutes, then turn heat off. Place 1/2 cup of this sauce in the bottom of a greased 9×13-inch baking dish (just enought to lightly coat the bottom.)
Make the filling: In a medium bowl, place the lamb, drained bulgar wheat, garlic, Turkish tomato sauce, salt, spices, pine nuts, and dried apricots in a medium bowl and mix with a clean, damp hand, until well combined.
Assemble the Cabbage Rolls: Place a blanched cabbage leaf on the counter. Cut 2 inches of the thick vein out of the bottom end. ( See photo). Fill with 1/3 cup lamb filling and roll up like a burrito, tucking edges in and place seam side down in the sauced, baking dish. Repeat with all. You should have 10-12 ish. See notes, for breakage.
BAKE: Once the baking dish is filled with the rolls, pour the remaining Tomato sauce over top. Give the pan a good shake. Cover with parchement, then tightly with foil (or a lid). Bake for 1 1/4 hours. If baking in a saute pan, you could heat this up gently on the stove top (covered) before placing in the oven and then bake for 1 hour.
Remove from oven, garnish with fresh parsley, mint or dill, and a few pinenuts. Serve with a thick creamy yogurt if you like.
Feel free to make in stages. (Make the sauce ahead, the filling ahead or blanch the cabbage ahead). You can make them from start to finish, bake, refrigerate and reheat (covered). I have not tried freezing.
If the cabbage leaves fall apart, split, get holes, or are too small, you can layer them, or lay two side by side and roll into one roll. This is typical once you get to the inner smaller leaves.
For a LOW-Carb Version: leave out the bulgar wheat and replace with raw “cauliflower rice” or the remaining cabbage (shredded finely). Leave out the dried apricots and the sweetener.