12–14 large savoy or green cabbage leaves (from 1 large head)
¾ cup long-grain white rice (such as basmati or jasmine), rinsed
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 large onion, or one bunch of spring onions, finely chopped
½ cup pine nuts, chopped roasted hazelnuts work well too
1 cup finely chopped mixed tender herbs (such as parsley, mint, dill)
⅓ cup chopped raisins
2 tbsp. sumac, plus more for serving
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter/vegan butter or olive oil
Sour cream, optional (for serving)
This recipe is for the love of spring cabbage! Each tender green leaf is filled with a fragrant and tart mix of warm rice, buttery pine nuts, fresh herbs and sour sumac. It’s a bit of a project, but as with many fiddly cooking tasks, the outcome is delicious (just take your time).
Cabbage Rolls with Lemony Rice and Sumac
Line a baking tray with a clean tea towel; set aside. Working in batches, cook cabbage leaves in a large pot of boiling generously salted water until bright green and pliable, about 2 minutes per batch. Transfer leaves to a bowl of ice water to cool; reserve pot of water for cooking rice. Transfer cabbage leaves to prepared baking tray and let drain.
Return water in pot to a boil and cook rice, stirring often, until grains swell and rise to the surface, 3–6 minutes (depending on quality of rice). Bite into a few grains to test; they should be al dente (rice will finish cooking when baked inside the cabbage). Drain rice and rinse under cold running water to stop it from cooking further. Drain again and transfer to a large bowl.
Wipe out pot. Pour in ¼ cup oil and set pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden, 7–9 minutes. Add pine nuts and cook, stirring often, until nuts smell toasty and have slightly darkened in colour and onion is almost jammy, about 5 minutes. Mix in herbs, raisins, and 2 tbsp. sumac and cook, still stirring, until herbs have slightly darkened in colour and are very fragrant, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice; let cool for 5 minutes.
Add onion mixture to rice and mix well; season generously with salt and pepper. Wipe out pot; reserve. Working with 1 cabbage leaf at a time, cut out the thickest part of rib by making a thin V-shape; discard (or snack on). Place 3 heaping Tbsp. filling in the centre, running crosswise across leaf. Starting at the base where you cut the V, fold notched side of leaf up and over filling, then fold in sides and roll up leaf like a burrito.
Arrange cabbage rolls, seam side down, in a single layer in reserved pot. Add butter and ½ cup water and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover pot, and steam rolls until filling is cooked through and leaves are tender, 15–20 minutes.
Divide cabbage rolls among plates; drizzle with oil and sprinkle with sumac and pepper. Serve with a dollop of sour cream.
Hints and Tips
This recipe is by Andy Baraghani