Stuffed cabbage leaves with mint, lemon and tomatoes

Stuffed cabbage leaves with mint, lemon and tomatoes


Mark Roper

Cabbage leaves, like vine leaves, are a great favourite around the Middle East and the eastern Mediterranean. These vegetarian rolls are full of citrussy minty flavours in a light tomato braise. They are delicious hot or cold.


Quantity Ingredient
100g cooked chickpeas
1 medium-sized cabbage
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
300g medium-grain rice
3 medium-sized tomatoes, skinned, seeded and diced
60g currants
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
freshly ground black pepper
garlic, crushed with 1 tablespoon sea salt
1 teaspoon dried mint
1 lemon, juiced and zested
1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses, (optional)
1 litre stock or water
or Toum


  1. Core the cabbage and separate the leaves. (The centre leaves at the heart of the cabbage are too small to stuff, so keep them to make a salad.) Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil, drop the large leaves in, a few at a time, and cook until they soften, which should take less than a minute. Drain in a colander. Cut the very large leaves in half, and slice away the thick central rib. With the smaller leaves, neatly slice out the thicker part of the central rib.
  2. To make the filling, heat the oil in a frying pan and gently sauté the onion until it is soft and translucent, but not coloured. Add the chickpeas and the rice, tomatoes, currants, spices and pepper and stir thoroughly. Taste and season with extra salt and pepper if necessary, then tip everything out into a large mixing bowl.
  3. Lay the cabbage leaves out on a work surface, adjusting them to close up any gaps where the central vein has been cut away. Blob a tablespoon of filling across the base of the leaf. Roll it over once, then fold in the sides and continue to roll up into a nice neat sausage shape. Continue until you have used up all the stuffing. If you have any leftover leaves, use them to line the base of your casserole dish. Place the rolls, seam side down, in the casserole dish.
  4. Mix the garlic paste with the dried mint and blob it over the cabbage rolls. Stir the lemon juice and zest, pomegranate molasses into the stock or water and pour over the cabbage rolls until just covered. Cover the rolls with a plate to keep them under the liquid. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer gently for 45 minutes. Serve them hot or warm, with plenty of cold yoghurt or toum.
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