A kind of deconstructed stuffed cabbage leaves, this is a wonderful and most satisfying winter dish. It is inspired by Ozlem Warren’s Bulguru Lahana Kapuska. I substituted wheat berries (farro) for the bulgur, and omitted the pepper paste, adding lots of Maras pepper. I used white wine and very little water as the cooking broth, plus some crushed canned tomatoes. The dried mint that Ozlem suggests was a revelation for me! It adds a new layer of flavor to the familiar meat-cabbage-grain combination.
1/3 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 pound lean ground beef
Salt to taste
2 cups dry white wine
1 pound cabbage: Separate, and thinly slice the stems, and coarsely shred the leaves
1 tablespoon turmeric
3 teaspoons Maras or Aleppo pepper flakes
1 1/2 cup diced canned tomatoes with their juice
2 cups pre-cooked farro or wheat berries (see NOTE)
2 teaspoons dry mint
1/4 cup lemon juice, or mote to taste
Fruity olive oil for drizzling
Thick yogurt, for serving
In a sauté pan warm the olive oil and cook the onions and garlic for 3 minutes, stirring. Add the meat and sauté in high heat, stirring often, until no longer pink. Add salt to taste and 1 cup of the wine to the pan, toss and add the cabbage stems. Toss, cover and cook for 5 minutes.
Add the the cabbage leaves to the pan, toss, cover and let the leaves wilt for 5 minutes. Uncover, add the rest of the wine, the turmeric, pepper, and the tomatoes, toss, add 1 cup warm water, the farro, and the mint. Toss, cover and cook for about 10 minutes, until the grains are cooked.
Uncover, toss, and add the lemon juice. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Serve in bowls drizzling with fruity olive oil, serving the yogurt on the side.
NOTE: I always have in my freezer half-cooked grains, as well as chickpeas and beans.
Add one pound farro or wheat berries in a pot, and cover with water that should come about 4-inches above the grains. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, bring to a boil, lower the heat to medium-low, and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the grains are almost tender but still hold their shape.
Drain and let cool completely in the colander, then transfer to a zip-log bag and store in the freezer.