Twenty years ago I went to Istanbul for my 30th birthday. I am the only woman I know who had 10 belly dancers perform at her party, and one of them was my sister... which explains how I ended up in Turkey for this birthday.
My sister was going to Turkey with a group of dancers whom she had been studying Middle Eastern dance with in New York City. She asked me to tag along as a unique way to celebrate a big birthday.
I was enchanted by the ancientness of Istanbul. The Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia still haunt my dreams as two of the most beautiful ancient religious structures.
|Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey|
The food is also a strong memory for me. We went to a restaurant one night and there were woman in the center of the room making pita bread. I wish I got a picture of them.. They were so fast at preparing and cooking the bread it was astounding.
|Making Pita Bread, Istanbul shop.|
There is terrific variety in Turkish food. They eat some fish, and they are famous for their terrific kebabs made of beef and lamb. They do not eat pork because Turkey is a Muslim country.
Turks love to stuff vegetables with meat and rice or bulgur wheat, eggplant and olive leaves are favorites for stuffing and so is cabbage.
I was already a fan of stuffed cabbage, but I never ate it with Turkish seasoning. The big difference for me was the addition of coriander and mint which really gave this simple dish more complexity.
Turkish Stuffed Cabbage: Etli Lahana Dolmasi
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Keywords: entree gluten-free cabbage Beef Turkish
Ingredients (4 to 6)
- 1 medium size cabbage (look for firm loose leaves)
- 1 pound of ground beef
- 1 cup of cooked brown rice
- 2 tablespoons of Extra-Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
- 1 onion minced
- 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon of fresh parsley minced
- 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon of fresh mint
- 2 teaspoons of coriander
- salt and pepper
1) Bring a large sauce pan filled halfway with water to a boil. Add salt.
2) Put whole cabbage in pot. Let it boil until the outside leaves soften. Remove cabbage from pot with tongs. Peel cooked leaves off with tongs. Let them cool on a cookie sheet lined with paper towels. Keep returning the cabbage to the pot and removing the leaves as they cook.
3) In a large skillet heat the EVOO on medium high. Saute the onions. When they begin to soften add: red pepper and coriander. Mix around for about a minute.
4) Add beef salt and pepper it well. Mix it with the onions and spices and cook until there is no more pink meat.
) When the beef is cooked turn off the heat and add the parsley, mint, tomato paste and rice. Mix it well into the beef.
)Put about two tablespoons or more of the beef mixture in the middle of each leaf and wrap it up. You can use torn leaves, just fudge wrapping them up.
7) Lay the leaves wrapped side down and brush them with a little EVOO. Serve immediately.
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