One of the joys of living in Bulgaria is learning the traditional village recipes. A favourite winter dish across the Balkans is stuffed cabbage leaves. Having preserved cabbages through lactofermentation (see our previous blog), this is a delicious and healthy way to eat them up. The soft texture and tangy flavour of the lactofermented cabbage gives them a unique taste sensation! This is a traditional recipe which involves stuffing the leaves with meat and rice. I make a vegetarian version swapping the meat for peppers, courgettes or whatever vegetable is available. This recipe comes from The Melting Pot: Balkan Food and Cookery by Maria Kaneva-Johnson.
20 sauerkraut leaves with thick central rib cut away; 2-3 tblsp of sauerkraut liquid (very good for the digestion); 1 tbsp veg oil
400g pork finely minced; an onion finely chopped; 2 tbsp veg oil; 50g round/short grain rice; black pepper
Mix stuffing ingredients together and moisten with a little water.
Lay leaf on flat surface with vein facing up. Place a ball of stuffing on the vine leaf. Fold over top of leaf and then sides and roll up tightly.
Put the oil in shallow pan and cover with a few loose cabbage leaves. Pack stuffed cabbage rolls on top in a single layer. Place a plate on top to hold them down and cover in a mix of water and sauerkraut liquid. Put a lid on and simmer for about 1 1/2 hours or until tender.