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Published January 07, 2014, 03:31 PM

Halgrimson: Hearty filling great in peppers or cabbage

One of our favorite fall and winter dishes is stuffed bell peppers or cabbage leaves.

By: Andrea Hunter Halgrimson, INFORUM

One of our favorite fall and winter dishes is stuffed bell peppers or cabbage leaves.

I’ve adapted the recipe from my tattered and stained “Greek Cooking for the Gods” by Eva Zane published in 1976. The book is filled with markers for my favorite recipes – Spinach Pie, Lemon Soup, Moussaka, Lentil Soup and Karidopeta, a nut cake soaked in syrup.

The original recipe is for cabbage, but I prefer using the stuffing for bell peppers. Briefly boiling the cabbage is necessary to loosen the leaves, but I parboil the bell peppers too as I think it takes out any harshness in their flavor, especially if green bell peppers are used.

And, yes, with all of the moisture in the dish, the raw rice gets done.

Tzatziki is a yogurt and cucumber sauce that is a fine accompaniment to many Greek dishes and I always serve it with this dish.

STUFFED BELL PEPPERS OR CABBAGE

1 very large cabbage, cored or 6 to 7 large red or green bell peppers, stemmed and seeded

2 to 3 tablespoons good olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, peeled, root removed and minced

1 pound lean ground round or ground lamb or ½ pound of each

¾ cup uncooked rice

1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano or ½ teaspoon dried

1 tablespoon minced fresh mint or ½ teaspoon dried

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon cloves

½ cup water

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 tablespoons tomato sauce (from the can below)

1 can (12 ounces) beef broth

½ cup wine (dry red or white)

1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce

Parboil cabbage or peppers for 4 or 5 minutes. Drain and if using cabbage, separate leaves. (Chop the inside cabbage leaves to line your cooking pan.)

In a heavy covered pot you are using to cook the dish, sauté onions and garlic in olive oil until golden. Scrape into a large bowl and using your hands, mix with meat and rice. If using fresh herbs, sprinkle them over the meat. If using dried, mix them in a small bowl with the spices and strew evenly over mixture. Add two tablespoons of tomato sauce and ½ cup of the water and mix in with your hands again.

Add a little more olive oil to the bottom of the same pot. If making cabbage rolls, scatter the leftover chopped cabbage in the bottom.

Fill softened cabbage leaves with meat mixture and fold into a roll. Place seam side down in pot. Or spoon a generous amount of filling into bell peppers and set them in the pot.

Combine beef broth, wine and the rest of the tomato sauce and pour over the stuffed vegetables. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat and cover. Cook on low for about an hour.

Makes 6 to 7 servings.

Adapted from “Greek Cooking for the Gods” by Eva Zane.

Readers can reach Forum Food Columnist Andrea Hunter Halgrimson at ahalgrimson@forumcomm.com

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