Epirus

Lahanodolmades with lemon cream (cabbage rolls)

Traditional stuffed cabbage rolls with a contemporary gluten-free twist.
Ηπειρώτικο Πρωινό-Lahanodolmades with lemon cream (cabbage rolls)
Before cooking...

During Christmas, Epirote women prepared several traditional delicacies that were connected in some way or another to the commemoration of Jesus Christ’s birth. Such was the “giaprakia” or “lahanodolmades” (stuffed cabbage rolls), which symbolized the swaddling of baby Jesus. For most Greeks, though, lahanodolmades is a year-round dish typical of our grandmother’s cuisine.

Lahanodolmades with lemon cream (cabbage rolls)

Ingredients

Typical Greek lahanodolmades usually have a more basic filling. This recipe adds dried nuts and raisins to the mix, making it more festive and suitable for Christmas.

For the cabbage rolls:

  • 1 large cabbage
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 3 scallions, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • ½ bunch of dill
  • ¼ bunch of parsley
  • 1½ cups of rice
  • 3 tbsp black raisins
  • ⅓ cup of pine nuts
  • ⅓ cup of walnuts, finely chopped
  • ½ cup of olive oil
  • Salt (to preference)
  • Freshly ground pepper (to preference)

For the cream:

  • 2 tbsp gluten-free cornstarch
  • 500 gr cabbage roll broth
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • A bit of dill, finely chopped
  • Salt (to preference)
  • Freshly ground pepper (to preference)

Execution

  1. Throw away the outer cabbage leaves and remove the core with a knife, leaving a hole in the center of the cabbage head. In a large cooking pot, boil water with salt and dip the cabbage with the hole in the bottom. Reduce the heat to medium, and boil the cabbage for 7-10 minutes until it’s tender. Remove the cabbage from the pot, and let it cool in a baking pan.
  2. Place a cooking pot on low heat, add half the olive oil, and sautee the finely chopped onions for 3-4 minutes. Add the rice and stir well. Pour 2 cups of water, bring to a simmer, and cook slowly for 6-7 minutes until it absorbs the liquids. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with the dill and parsley.
  3. Remove the filling from the heat. Add the pine cones, the walnuts, the raisins, the remaining olive oil, the grated carrot, and the scallions, and stir well.
  4. Pull the cabbage leaves one by one, remove their thicker veins and spread them (the veins) on the bottom of a shallow cooking pot (braising pan) along with the onion slices to form a base layer.
  5. Take a cabbage leaf, fill it with a tbsp of filling, and fold it like a roll with closed sides. Repeat for all the cabbage leaves.
  6. Place the cabbage rolls in the pot by lining them up and jamming them together with the seam at the bottom. Pour enough water to cover the cabbage rolls and season with salt and pepper. Cover the rolls with a plate to prevent them from opening. If you like, keep the parsley and dill stems and add them to the stew for additional flavoring.
  7. Place the pot on low heat and cook slowly for 40-45 minutes.
  8. When the rolls are done, place a saucepan on low heat and add the hot broth. Dilute the cornstarch in some water, add it to the broth, and stir well until you have a cream. Add the lemon juice, season with salt and pepper, and stir gently. Add the finely chopped dill and stir gently again.
  9. Serve the cabbage rolls with cream on top.

These cabbage rolls are a hearty, wholesome dish even though they come with a simple lemon cream instead of avgolemono, the traditional Greek “grandma’s” sauce.

After cooking…

In Zagori, somewhere between the village of Monodendri and Oxya viewpoint, the natural observatory overlooking the Vikos Gorge, stands an unusual “forest.” The utterly imposing, nature-sculpted Stone Forest of Monodendri consists of several stone “trees” made of countless layers of limestone. These magnificent towers were formed across millions of years due to natural erosion by the unforgiving Epirotic winds and rains

Ηπειρώτικο Πρωινό-After cooking…