Here’s another dish brought to you by Yiayia Saltas: Lahanodolmades (cabbage rolls). Traditionally made with an avgolemono (egg and lemon sauce on top), my yiayia has always served hers with a rich tomato sauce that brightens up the rolls and creates depths of flavor. They are a perfect comfort dish that can be a stand alone meal, or served alongside a leafy salad or your favorite soup. These rolls are great warm or cold.
For the stuffing:
2 medium heads of cabbage
1 ½ lb ground beef
1 cup rice (or more rice if you prefer)
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon dried oregano, or to taste
1 teaspoon dried mint
Salt and pepper, to taste
For the sauce:
15 oz tomato sauce
15 oz petite diced tomatoes
8 oz ketchup
1 teaspoon oregano
¼ cup olive oil
water or beef broth, if needed for extra liquid
1. Bring a large pot of water to boil (enough to submerge cabbage). Wash the cabbage, cut the stem and place in boiling water, stem side down. Parboil until the outer leaves are tender and can easily come off. This should take about 10-15 minutes.
2. With a ladle or slotted spoon, carefully remove the leaves one by one and place on a baking pan or strainer to cool.
3. Meanwhile, make your stuffing. In a medium bowl, combine the ground beef, rice, onion, and garlic. Season with dried oregano, dried mint, and salt and pepper. Mix everything altogether until well combined.
4. In a separate bowl, make your sauce. Combine the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, ketchup, oregano and olive oil and mix well. Mix in one cup of the tomato mixture into the meat mixture. Set aside the rest.
5. Preheat the oven to 350F.
6. To assemble the cabbage rolls, cut the veins from the bottom of each cabbage leaf, creating a V shape. With any broken or too small of leaves, place them on the bottom of a baking dish.
7. Place the leaf cut side up and add 1 tablespoons of the meat mixture at the end. Fold in the sides of the leaves and roll up. Repeat until all of the cabbage leaves are used. Place the rolls snuggly in the baking dish, and ensure there are no gaps. Try to fit as many in a single layer. Cover the top with a few cabbage leaves.
8. Top the rolls with the tomato sauce. Add more olive oil or water if needed for extra liquid. You want the rolls to be mostly covered in liquid. Place an inverted plate on top of the rolls keep them submerged and snug while cooking.
9. Bake for 1-1 ½ hours, or until cabbage rolls are tender.