"The best times you are going to have in life are at the dinner table and in bed." Old Italian saying. So relax, and enjoy the simple things!


Turkish Stuffed Cabbage: Etli Lahana Dolmasi #Food of the World

Turkish Stuffed Cabbage: Etli Lahana Dolmasi: simplelivingeating.com

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: simplelivingeating.com
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: simplelivingeating.com
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. 

fishmonger Istanbul: simplelivingeating.com
Fishmonger Istanbul.

Turks love to stuff vegetables with meat and rice or bulgur wheat, eggplant and olive leaves are favorites for stuffing and so is cabbage. 

Turkish Stuffed Cabbage: simplelivingeating.com

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

by Diane Balch at simplelivingeating.com
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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Join us next month when we visit Brazil on February 10th. Sign up for the mailing list and I will let you know when the party is live. 



  1. This looks delicious Diane! I ran into a snag with my recipe, so I'm running a bit late.

  2. Dear Diane, What an exciting, and memorable trip. I love these stuffed cabbage roll-ups. They look wonderful and sound absolutely delicious. Just my kind of food. Blessings dear, Catherine xo

    1. Of course it's your kind of food, we have the same taste buds. I just had a left over one for lunch and the coriander and mint are just wonderful. I hope you get to try it.

  3. Hi Diane. The day this post went live I had just made gozleme and only gotten around to posting it. I see there's another post in the link up for it so will check out that recipe too. I love Turkish food and hope to make a lot more of it. Thanks for the party.

    Anne xx

  4. Looks delicious! Thank you so much for linking up at Tasty Tuesday! Your recipe has been pinned to the Tasty Tuesday Pinterest board! Please join us again this week!

  5. I've had cabbage rolls but not prepared in the Turkish way. The spices you have used sound really light and refreshing. And I loved the story about your birthday, Diane! I've not been to Istanbul yet, but it's on my list! Thank you for sharing with us at the Hearth and Soul hop. Pinning and will tweet :-)

    1. I hope you try these spices really a nice change. And yes, April Istanbul is beautiful and you are not nearly as far from it as me. I hope you get there. The coast of Turkey is suppose to be beautiful too.

  6. Looks delicious thanks for sharing with Hearth and soul blog hop

  7. What a great post Diane, I just love Stuffed Cabbage. Thanks so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday and have a great week.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

  8. what a fabulous way to celebrate your birthday - My Mom went there a few years ago and loved it and brought me back such variety of spices - I too love how they season their food

    1. Istanbul has an amazing spice market with great prices on saffron. I remember bring back home a lot.

  9. I have always thought of cabbage rolls as a very time-intensive recipe, but this one looks quick, easy, and delicious! I am pinning this one to try.

    1. The recipes I read seemed to over complicate making them. If you already skillet cooked the meat and boiled the cabbage why do you need to recook the whole thing?


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