Cabbage rolls

I love these charming cabbage rolls.  I used to love helping my mother make them…they are a little fiddly, so it is nice to have someone to share the job.

My mother called these cabbage rolls ‘sarma’.  I never did ask my mother why this was, but I do think this name comes from the Turkish language.

There are many ways of serving and preparing this meal. In Northern Greece these cabbage rolls are prepared using pickled cabbage (toursi) and pork mince, which is also lovely.

They are delicious served with the traditional avgolemono (egg and lemon sauce), Greek yogurt or, my favourite, simply a squeeze of lemon…served with some fresh, crusty bread and feta cheese, it makes a perfect meal.

Delicious…serve your favourite way.

Cabbage rolls

I large cabbage
750 grams minced beef
1 onion finely chopped
300 grams medium grain rice
1/3 cup finely chopped parsley
1 tablespoon tomato paste
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
egg and lemon sauce (optional)

Wash cabbage well and with a sharp knife carefully cut into the core and remove it.  Place the cabbage into a large saucepan filled with water and bring to boil, simmer for 15 minutes.  Remove carefully, drain and allow to cool.  Start removing cabbage leaves one at a time when cool enough to touch and set aside.  You can put the cabbage back into hot water if it becomes difficult to detach the leaves.  Trim the hard stems of the leaves and cut into 2 or large enough to roll.

In a large bowl combine meat, onion, rice, parsley, seasonings, tomato paste and oil.

Line a large casserole dish with 2 or 3 cabbage leaves.

Place a cabbage leaf into the palm of your hand and place 1 tablespoon of the meat mixture in the leaf, fold bottom over it, sides in and roll up.  Place in the casserole dish  seam side down, repeat until all the mixture is finished.  You may have more than one layer of cabbage rolls, make sure they are packed tightly.

Pour 1 cup hot water over and drizzle some olive oil.

Place a heavy plate upside down over the rolls to keep them in shape.

Simmer for about 45 minutes or until cooked.

When cool you can pour over egg and lemon sauce or if you prefer just a squeeze of lemon juice, which is what I prefer.

Keftethes (meatballs)

These delicious keftethes (meatballs) are perfect on a meze platter accompanied with tzatziki and fresh crusty bread.

I like to add some feta cheese, olives and a Greek salad and make it a complete sharing meal.

Keftethes

500 grams minced beef
2 thick slices day old bread (crusts removed) or
½ cup breadcrumbs
2 eggs
¼ cup chopped parsley
1 tablespoon dried oregano
salt and pepper
1 finely chopped or grated onion
plain flour for coating
olive oil for frying

Soak the bread in water and squeeze out excess and crumble, if using bread.   Mix with other ingredients well, the mixture should be moist.

You can use beef or lamb combined with some pork if you prefer or simply the meat of your choice.

Leave in the fridge for about 1 hour.

Take small pieces of the meat mixture and roll into walnut sized balls, coat in flour and fry in hot olive oil making sure that the oil is not too hot, you don’t want to burn the keftethes.  Take care not to overcrowd the frypan and cook over a medium heat, turning a couple of times so they are golden brown in color.

Can be served hot or at room temperature.