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Turkish Stuffed Cabbage

Turkish Stuffed Cabbage

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For the sauces

  • 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • Dash of dried mint
  • Dash of dried oregano
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 3/4 cups Turkish-style (süzme) or Greek-style strained plain yogurt

For the filling

  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 16 ounces white basmati rice
  • 1 white or yellow onion, chopped finely
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/3 bunch dill, chopped finely
  • 1/3 bunch mint, stemmed and chopped finely
  • 1/3 bunch flat-leaf parsley, stemmed and chopped finely
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons mild red pepper paste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

For the stuffed cabbage

  • One 3 ½-pound cabbage
  • 2 1/2 cups tomato juice
  • 2 1/2 cups water


Calories Per Serving929

Folate equivalent (total)661µg100%

Riboflavin (B2)0.7mg39.5%

Rolled Cabbage Leaves with Bulgur filling Bulgurlu Lahana Sarma

We love stuffed vegetables, dolmas in Turkish cuisine and I have a soft spot for this delicious stuffed cabbage leaves with bulgur, onions and ground meat, Bulgurlu Lahana Sarmasi, Antakya style (“Dolma” is the term used for stuffed vegetables, as in peppers, aubergines, tomatoes and “Sarma” is the term used for rolled leaves in Turkish cuisine). Bulgur is flavored here with the dried mint (the star spice here), cumin and red pepper flakes, along with onion and parsley. It makes a delicious filling even without the meat so by all means omit the meat for a vegetarian version. I remember as a child so eagerly waiting for this delicious sarma to cook mother would ask whether we would like to do a “quality check” of the rolls from the pot and we tuck in at that very minute, happy days.

Tip for separating the cabbage leaves try to get a large cabbage with big, straight leaves. Trim the bottom root and place the cabbage as whole in a large pan with boiling water and simmer for 8 minutes. The leaves will start to peel off without breaking. Please save the hard stalk or the hard middle part of the cabbage leaves they are delicious in Lahana Kapuska cabbage cooked with rice, onions, ground meat and spices, a sort of deconstructed rolled cabbage leaves – my recipe link is here.

Rolled cabbage leaves with bulgur, Southern Turkish Style dried mint and red pepper flakes flavor the cabbage and bulgur beautifully

Wholesome grain bulgur is widely used in southern Turkish cuisine in mezzes, salads, stuffed vegetables and in bulgur pilaf. Cooked in lemony olive oil sauce, it makes a delicious pairing with cabbage here all you need is some plain yoghurt aside to enjoy this delicious Bulgurlu Lahana Sarmasi. You can use (1 tbsp.) pomegranate molasses instead of lemon juice in the sauce if you’d like a sharper taste.

My roots go back to ancient Antioch, Antakya and I love sharing Antakya’s delicious, diverse cuisine, along with other healthy, wholesome Turkish recipes, all included at my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, Recipes from My Homeland. Signed copies available at this link, and now 25 % Off, if you’d like a copy. It is delivered worldwide including the US. We also have this Ozlem’s Turkish Table apron available now, made in Turkey, with my hometown Antakya’s daphne leaves embroidered in the design, it can make a lovely gift for a foodie. You can order at this link.

Turkish Spiced Cabbage and Minced Lamb Stew with Tomatoes

The ingredients for 4 as per the recipe

45ml olive oil (I didn't use this)
250g minced lamb
2 medium onions, chopped
1 large garlic clove, chopped
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp red pepper paste (recipe below but I used Harissa)
½ tsp chilli flakes
4 tomatoes, peeled and roughly chopped (I didn't peel)
1 tsp salt
6 turns black pepper mill
375ml water
1 medium Savoy or white cabbage, coarsely chopped.

What I did

First off I bought the minced lamb in the supermarket and there was 475g in the pack. Quandry. do I use 250g per the recipe and freeze the rest for some as yet unidentified recipe, probably finding it in the freezer some months later or do I just use the whole pack? Answer. I use the whole pack.

In a large pan, heat the olive oil over high heat and fry the minced lamb until brown all over. (I didn't use the olive oil because I think minced lamb is fatty enough as it is, in fact, I drained some fat off once the meat was browned).

Turn the heat down and add the rest of the olive oil, onions and garlic and stir until softened. (Again, I didn't use any additional oil here)

Add tomato paste, red pepper paste ( I used Harissa here), chilli flakes, chopped tomatoes, salt and pepper and cook for a few minutes until the tomatoes start to break down. Add 250ml water and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for 30 mins.

Add cabbage and the rest of the water (I didn't add any more water as it still seemed quite liquid) Simmer for another 30 mins. Sprinkle with chilli flakes and serve.

If you want to make the Red Pepper Paste:

660g red peppers
50g tomato paste
½ tsp salt
1 tsp cayenne pepper
30 ml olive oil

Roast the peppers for 20-30 mins at 220ºC/Gas 7 until dark and softened. Transfer to a bowl and cover with cling film, leave until cool enough to handle.

Remove the charred skins, stalks and seeds and blitz in a blender with the remaining ingredients.

Store this in a jar, in the fridge for around a week.

Recipe Summary

  • 1 large head cabbage
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • ¾ cup cooked white rice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed tomato soup

Place cabbage head in freezer and freeze overnight. Remove from freezer, thaw and peel away leaves.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Combine the beef, egg, onion, rice, salt and pepper. Mix together well. Take a small handful and form into a small roll or ball. Place into the center of a cabbage leaf. Fold the sides of the leaf over and roll the ball up into the leaf. Place seam side down in baking dish. Continue until all of the filling is used up.

Mix together the soup with a 1/2 can water pour over stuffed cabbage.

Bake uncovered at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 1 hour baste often with the sauce.

Recipe Summary

  • ⅔ cup water
  • ⅓ cup uncooked white rice
  • 8 cabbage leaves
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • ¼ cup chopped onion
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed tomato soup

In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add rice and stir. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Bring a large, wide saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil. Add cabbage leaves and cook for 2 to 4 minutes or until softened drain.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the ground beef, 1 cup cooked rice, onion, egg, salt and pepper, along with 2 tablespoons of tomato soup. Mix thoroughly.

Divide the beef mixture evenly among the cabbage leaves. Roll and secure them with toothpicks or string.

In a large skillet over medium heat, place the cabbage rolls and pour the remaining tomato soup over the top. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 40 minutes, stirring and basting with the liquid often.

Turkey-Stuffed Cabbage

This hearty entrèe features ground turkey, lean ground beef, and no added salt, making for a low-fat, low-sodium treat.



1. Rinse and core cabbage. Carefully remove 10 outer leaves, place in saucepan, and cover with boiling water. Simmer five minutes. Remove and drain cooked cabbage leaves on paper toweling.

2. Shred half cup of raw cabbage and set aside.

3. Brown ground beef and turkey and minced onion in skillet. Drain fat.

4. Place cooked and drained meat mixture, bread crumbs, water, and pepper in mixing bowl.

5. Drain tomatoes, reserving liquid, and add half-cup tomato juice from can to meat mixture. Mix well, then place quarter-cup filling on each parboiled, drained cabbage leaf. Place folded side down in skillet.

6. Add tomatoes, sliced onion, water, shredded cabbage, and carrot. Cover and simmer about 1 hour (or until cabbage is tender), basting occasionally.

7. Remove cabbage rolls to serving platter, keep warm.

8. Mix lemon juice, brown sugar, and cornstarch in small bowl. Add to vegetables and liquid in skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened and clear. Serve over cabbage rolls.

Nutrition Details

Calories 257 , Fat 9g , Cholesterol 54mg , Sodium 266mg , Saturated Fat 3g , Protein - , Fiber - , Carbohydrates -

Turkish Food & Recipes

1 head white cabbage
½ lb ground meat
1 big onion, chopped finely
1 cup rice, washed and drained
1 tomato, diced/1 cup crashed or diced tomato in a can
1 tsp tomato paste (optional)
1 tbsp salt to taste
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp black pepper
1-2 tbsp canola oil
1 ½ cup hot water
1-2 tbsp butter
½ lemon’s juice

Take out the outer leaves of cabbage. In a large pot place the cabbage and cover it with lightly salted water. Bring it to boil and turn the heat down to medium high. Boil it till the outer leaves start to loosen and get softer (2-3 minutes). Remove the soft leaves from the core and place them on a big plate or tray. Return the cabbage to the pot and repeat the first step until all leaves get soft and removed. Let the leaves cool for 8-10 minutes.Remove the center stalks from the leaves with a knife. Then cut the large leaves into three triangular parts and the smaller leaves into two equal parts (see the picture).If you like small rolls you can obtain about 50 pieces, but if you like bigger ones then there would be 30-35 pieces. I prefer making bigger rolls, so I cut the bigger leaves into 2 and use the small leaves without cutting.
Meanwhile, in a pot place 1 ½ cup hot water, rice and half of the salt. Once it boils, turn the heat low and simmer till the rice absorbs all the water. In a wide skillet first cook the meat with canola oil till its color turns to brown. And then, stir in onions and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste (optional) and the rest of the salt. Cook for 3 minutes and sprinkle the spices. Transfer the cooked rice over the cooked ground meat mixture and combine them all.
Now it’s time to roll the stuffed cabbages.
Take one piece of cabbage leaf and place 1-2 tbsp of filling (according to the size of the leaf) on the wider side (see the picture) and fold the sides inside and roll (see the picture). Repeat this for the remaining leaves.
Arrange cabbage rolls in a large pot (see the picture), chop butter in small pieces and scatter it on top. Pour lemon juice and cover half of it with boiling water. Once it starts to boil, turn the heat low and cover the lid. Simmer for 20-30 minutes, until the rice cooks thoroughly. Let it rest for 15-20 minutes.
Serve Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Ground Beef warm, with yogurt or yogurt sauce.

1 bas beyaz lahana
250 gr kiyma
1 buyuk boy sogan, kucuk dogranmis
1 su bardagi pirinc, yikanip suzulmus
1 domates, dogranmis/1 su bardagi domates konservesi
1 tatli kasigi domates salcasi (istege bagli)
1 yemek kasigi tuz
1 cay kasigi kimyon
1 cay kasigi karabiber
1-2 yemek kasigi sivi yag
1 ½ su bardagi sicak su
1-2 yemek kasigi tereyag
½ limonun suyu

Stuffed Cabbage

Our deputy editor Kate, who grew up in a Russian immigrant family in Brooklyn, NY is no stranger to stuffed cabbage. Her grandmother’s recipe uses all beef and slightly different seasonings, but this one still reminds her of home.

1 large head green cabbage

2 medium onions, grated on a box grater

2 teaspoons ground coriander

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

3 cups Basic Tomato Sauce (see below)*

*basic tomato sauce (makes about 4 cups):

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 large onion, cut into ¼ inch dice

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1/2 medium carrot, finely shredded

3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tablespoon dried

2 (28-ounce) cans peeled whole tomatoes, crushed by hand, juices reserved

1. Bring a large pot half-full of water to a boil over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons salt.

2. Turn the cabbage upside down with the stem sticking up. With a long, thin knife, cut around the core, angling the knife slightly toward the center of the head. Remove the core and discard.

3. Trim away any large veins remaining in the cabbage, then carefully drop in the boiling water, being careful to avoid splashing. Keep the head submerged for about 2 minutes. Carefully remove the cabbage and pull off the outer leaves, holding them on a towel-lined tray. The idea is to remove the leaves without tearing them.

4. Return the cabbage to the pot, and after a couple of minutes pull off some more leaves and repeat until you’ve harvested as many large leaves as you can get. Cut thick veins away from the cooked leaves. Let the leaves cool and dry.

5. In a bowl, combine the beef, pork, rice, onions, fennel seeds, coriander, pepper, and 2 teaspoons salt and mix well.

6. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

7. Cover the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with 1 cup of the tomato sauce. To stuff the cabbages, take a full leaf (or two smaller leaves) and lay it flat on a work surface. Put about 1/2 cup of the meat mixture on the leaf. Fold the sides of the leaf over the ends of meat, then roll the leaf to close. Put the cabbage rolls in the baking pan seam side down, and repeat to fill the rest of the leaves, making 3 rows of 4 rolls.

8. In a bowl, mix the remaining 2 cups tomato sauce and the water and pour over the cabbage rolls. Pack any remaining cabbage leaves around the rolls. Cover the pan with foil.

9. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Serve hot from the oven.

*To make the tomato sauce, in a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until soft and light golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the carrot and thyme and cook 5 minutes more, until the carrot is quite soft. Add the tomatoes and their juice and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, until the sauce is as thick as hot cereal. Season with salt.

This sauce holds for 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer.

Recipe Summary

  • 1 large egg, plus 1 egg white
  • 1/3 cup kasha (roasted buck- wheat kernels), such as Bob's Red Mill
  • 2/3 cup boiling water
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 small Savoy cabbage
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped (2 cups)
  • 3 medium carrots, shredded (2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh dill, plus more for serving
  • 1 pound ground turkey, preferably dark meat
  • 4 teaspoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes
  • Sour cream, for serving

Whisk egg white in a bowl stir in kasha to evenly coat. Heat a small saucepan over high add kasha mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until dry and kernels separate, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low stir in boiling water and a pinch of salt. Cover and cook until water evaporates and kasha is tender, about 8 minutes.

With a paring knife, remove core of cabbage. Drop cabbage into a large pot of generously salted boiling water cook until outer leaves turn bright green and pull easily from head, about 1 minute. Remove outer leaves transfer to a baking sheet lined with a kitchen towel. Continue boiling cabbage and removing leaves until 12 largest outer leaves are cooked. (Remove remaining cabbage and reserve for another use.) Trim the thick center vein from bottom of each leaf.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a skillet over medium. Add onion season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl along with cooked kasha let cool completely. Whisk remaining egg and stir into kasha mixture with carrots, herbs, turkey, and flour. Season with 1 1/4 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

Line an 8‐inch bowl (measured across top) with a double layer of cheesecloth, leaving about 6 inches of overhang. Then line with the 6 prettiest cabbage leaves, overlapping slightly and allowing them to hang over top of bowl. Layer with one‐third of turkey mixture top with 2 more cabbage leaves. Repeat layering twice with remaining turkey mixture and leaves. Fold in overhanging leaves to cover filling. Gather cheesecloth overhang and lift cabbage up, twisting to tighten into a secure round.

Place tomatoes and 1 cup water in an ovenproof pot, such as a Dutch oven bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper stir in remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Place stuffed cabbage, with twisted part of cheesecloth facing down, in pot. Cover, transfer to oven, and roast, basting occasion‐ ally with tomatoes, until a thermometer inserted in center registers 160 degrees, 40 to 50 minutes. Let cool slightly, then remove cheesecloth and slice cabbage into wedges. Serve with pan sauce, sour cream, and herbs.

(Etli) Kapuska – A Turkish Cabbage Stew Recipe (With Meat)

And then there are these not-so-little wonders of the vegetable world…

Huge cabbages for sale at Çalış Market

You can buy cabbage at Fethiye markets most times of the year, but, during winter, they bulge and grow, Jack-And-The-Beanstalk style, and some of them just make the mind boggle. Believe us, there are much bigger ones around than the cabbages in this photo, and these are more than big enough for any family.

So, what to make with all this cabbage? That’s what a reader asked us recently on Instagram. He too was amazed by the size of the cabbages, took a photo of them and asked us if there are any recipes which could make use of them.

Ohhh, yes there are – and that request very conveniently reminded us that we are yet to post one of our favourite recipes: Etli Kapuska a Turkish cabbage stew recipe with meat.

If you are anything like us and thought you didn’t like cabbage (or are not over keen on it) this Turkish cabbage stew recipe could be the one that changes all that. We love it! So let’s get started.


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