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Stuffed Cabbage Leaves with Toasted Pistachios and Pine Nuts

You can make all sorts of stuffings if you follow the basic recipe – you could use cooked lentils or other chopped nuts or whatever ingredients happen to be handy.

 
 

Method

First of all, cook the rice. Begin by warming the frying pan over a medium heat, then add the oil and add the onions and let them cook for 3-4 minutes, or until lightly tinged brown. Next, stir in the rice, give it a stir so that it is glistening with oil. Then pour in 10 fl oz (275 ml) boiling water and season with salt. Stir, once only, then cover with the lid. Turn the heat to its lowest setting and let the rice cook for 45 minutes, or until all the liquid has been absorbed and the grains are tender. Take the pan off the heat, remove the lid and cover with a clean tea cloth for 5 minutes, then turn the cooked rice into a mixing bowl and leave it to cool a little.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to gas mark 4, 350°F (180°C). Now place the pistachios and the pine nuts on a baking tray and toast in the oven for 7-8 minutes (make sure you set a timer). Then remove the tray from the oven and leave the nuts to cool. Now you can prepare the cabbage. To do this, discard the tough outer leaves and then carefully peel off about 6 or 7 whole leaves. In each one of these make a V-shaped cut with a sharp knife to snip out the hard stalky bits. Next, chop up the heart of the cabbage and bring a large saucepan of water to the boil.

Blanch the whole leaves and chopped cabbage, separately, by cooking them in the boiling water; the whole leaves will take 5 minutes and the chopped will take 2-3 minutes. Then drain the cabbage in a colander, rinse in cold water and drain again. Shake off as much moisture from the leaves as you can and wrap them in a clean tea cloth or piece of kitchen paper to dry. Then add the chopped cabbage to the cooled rice, with the currants, pistachios, pine nuts and mint and a generous seasoning of salt and pepper.

Now take a heaped tablespoon of the rice and chopped cabbage mixture and wrap it in one of the prepared leaves – squeezing gently till you have a neat package and tucking the ends underneath to prevent the parcels bursting open while they are in the oven.Fill and roll the remaining cabbage leaves with the rest of the stuffing, then pack the parcels closely together in a casserole, tucking the cinnamon sticks in amongst them. Season with salt and pepper and pour the chopped tomatoes over the parcels. Cover and bake for 1 hour in the oven.

 

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