I love this dish as it is fun to prepare. Whether you have a spouse, kid or house guest, any willing participant can help you stitch these packages up with tooth picks, something my younger son loved to do when we made the dish last night. You can vary the ingredients, add rice or bulgur (which will require to bake the rolls in the oven or else the rice won’t be cooked) and make it a richer experience by adding feta, which goes well with lamb. We keep things pretty simple, but you sure can let your creativity flow on this one…
1 head of Napa cabbage
1 lb of minced lamb
1 small yellow onion
3 cloves garlic
1 medium-sized carrot
1 celery stalk
1/4 cup parsley
1/3 cup grated parmesan
1 tsp of dried mint
Salt and fresh pepper
1 Tbsp vegetable oil (e.g., organic safflower or grapeseed oil)
1/2 cup white wine, vegetable or chicken broth or water
Start with boiling water in a medium-sized pot that will hold the full head of cabbage.
Add a pinch of salt and submerge the cabbage to blanch for about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate or an ice water bath.
When cool enough to handle, separate leaves from stalk and set aside.
Finely mince onion, garlic, carrot, celery stalk and parsley.
Combine mixed vegetables, cheese, egg and lamb into a bowl along with some salt and pepper to taste and mix well.
Place one cabbage leaf on a cutting board, add about 1-2 tablespoons of lamb mixture (depending on the leaf’s size), fold sides and roll up into a package that is kept closed with a tooth pick.
Repeat with other leaves.
Using a heavy skillet over medium-high heat, preheat the vegetable oil until hot.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the lamb rolls and brown on all side for about 3-4 minutes.
Add wine and simmer for another 15-20 minutes, until the rolls are cooked through. You might have to add more liquid, if the pan gets too dry. Browning is good, burning not so…
Serve hot with rice or roasted potatoes and a green leafy salad.