Stuffed cabbage, also known as dolmades (or dolma), is a hearty comfort food that’s beloved for fall feasts like Sukkot and Simchat Torah (when two small stuffed cabbage rolls placed side by side resemble the scrolls of the Torah). But this tasty dish is a year-round favorite for dinner parties, family meals and potlucks.
While the exact recipe varies, most cooks agree on some key steps to prepare the cabbage leaves. First, they blanch them. This is done by submerging the entire head of cabbage in boiling water for anywhere from three to ten minutes. Then, the cooks gently remove the softened outer leaves and discard the tougher inner ones.
Then the cooks make the filling. Usually, this is a combination of ground meats, rice, bread crumbs and parsley (or cilantro). Many recipes suggest sprinkling the filling with grated or crumbled feta, which adds an extra burst of saltiness that helps balance out the richness of the other ingredients.
Other variations include using a different kind of cheese, substituting nuts or other cooked grains for the bread crumbs and adding seasonings like paprika or cayenne pepper for flavor and heat. The savory fillings are then folded inside the softened cabbage leaves and rolled up into little logs. The rolled cabbages are then placed in a large casserole and covered with sauce to bake.
To thicken the sauce, a cornstarch slurry is made by stirring about half of a cup of cornstarch into 1/4 cup cold water until dissolved. The remaining cornstarch slurry is added to the sauce along with a pinch of sugar and simmered until it thickens, just the way you like it. محشي ملفوف