Sunday, 28 February 2016

Stuffed Cabbage, or Lahanodolmades, or Λαχανοντολμάδες

Second Vegetarian dish on the blog: Λαχανοντολμάδες
While I was in Athens, my friend’s mom cooked for us a delicious plate of Λαχανοντολμάδες, lahanodolmades (pronounced as lah-hah-no-dole-mah-thes). I enjoyed them so much that I was determined to make them for myself as soon as I was back in the UK.

Just to break it down a bit: 
Λαχανο means Cabbage, and ντολμά comes from the Turkish word dolma, which means stuffed vegetable/leaf. So, Λαχανοντολμάδες, means stuffed cabbage. 
Just to point out, I'm sure most of you are more familiar with Ντολμαδάκια, or small dolmades, which are the stuffed grape leaves served at most Greek restaurants. Same concept, different vegetable.
As is the case will all Greek cooking, I have fond memories of my giagia making these every time I would visit Lefkada. And just to be clear, she and my mom would always make the vegetarian version of the dish, as opposed to adding minced meat. I called my mom up to ask for general instructions, and set off to make the lahanodolmades.
Just a few things I want to point out before we begin. For one, I used British Cabbage because it was the largest I could find—feel free to use any cabbage you wish, as long as it has largish leaves. I also can never find fresh dill here in the UK (is that not odd?), so I had to use dried—don’t worry if you too run into this problem, the lahanodolmades will still taste great. I also added grated carrot just to enrich the flavour of the dolmades. Lastly, if you remember from my Augolemono Soup recipe, I always prefer to use Basmati rice as opposed to long grain—use whatever you prefer.

Stuffed Cabbage leaves, or Lahanodolmades, or Λαχανοντολμάδες 

45g Fresh Parsley, chopped
45g Fresh Dill, chopped
2 large Eggs
2 Lemons
1 cup Rice (long grain or basmati)
1 Carrot, grated
1 large Onion, finely chopped
1 large Cabbage (I used British Cabbage)
4 tbsp Olive Oil

1. Place water and a bit of salt in a deep pot and leave it to boil. Begin by preparing your cabbage. Carefully remove the outer leaves and set them aside—we will use these later. Then, remove the stem of the cabbage by cutting it triangularly. We will now blanch the cabbage. Place the cabbage in the boiling water. The leaves should start to separate from the body of the cabbage. If not, use a fork or tongs to gently separate them. Remove the leaves and set aside on a tray when they are soft and a vibrant green colour—do this until all the cabbage has been separated. Remember those outer leaves? Place them in the boiling water as well, and do the same (we will be using the leaves as the base in our pot). Let the leaves cool.
remove the stem
Place in boiling water & blanch
remove from water and let cool
2. In the meantime, prepare the stuffing. Begin by thoroughly rinsing the rice under cold water. Then chop your onions, parsley and dill, and grate your carrot. Place 4 tbsp of olive oil in a pot, and sautéed your onions. Once translucent, add the carrots and sautéed for another 2 minutes. Add the rice, salt and pepper and sautéed for another 3-4 mins. Remove from heat and stir in the parsley, dill, and season to taste. Let cool.
3. Place a leaf on a plate or chopping board. Add about a tablespoon of filling in the part of the leaf that is closest to you; then fold the leaf as you would a parcel—the outer sides inwards—and tightly roll the leaf away from you. This might sound complicated, but think of a burrito and the way that you form one. Same concept. Little cabbage burritos. Do the same with each leaf of cabbage, including the smaller ones (make sure to leave out those outer layers). I've included a step by step picture guide:
4. Cover the bottom of the pot with the outer layers of cabbage we have saved. Then place the largest lahanodolmades (fold side down) in a circular pattern, beginning with the outer edge of the pot. Continue until you have finished the first layer. Then if you have more dolmades, place them in a circular pattern, beginning with the middle of the pot. (I only have enough dolmades for one layer, plus 2 on the top).
5. Cover your dolmades with a dish, face side down. Pour boiled water around the edges of the plate into your pot until the plate is just covered. This will help weigh down the dolmades and cook evenly whilst retaining their shape. Cook for about 30-40 mins on low heat, until the rice is cooked and the cabbage is tender.
6. Once your dolmades are ready, separate the broth from the dolmades and place in a jug. Let cool until the broth is warm but not piping hot (the cooler the better). We will now prepare the egg-lemon sauce, or augolemono. Basically, we will do exactly what we did with the Augolemono Soup. Whisk your two eggs, and then slowly whisk in the juice of two lemons; continue to whisk until frothy. Then slowly whisk in the broth of your dolmades. ** Then pour the egg-lemon sauce into your pot. To avoid breaking the dolmades, shake your pot to make sure the sauce goes everywhere evenly. Enjoy!

**If you want a thicker sauce, add 1-2 tbsp. of cornstarch/corn flour to your lemon juice before adding it to the eggs. Then slowly whisk in the broth of your dolmades. Pour your mixture into a small pan and heat it up on medium heat. As you whisk, the cornstarch should cook, and the broth should thicken (make sure you keep whisking or your sauce will turn lumpy)

I forgot to take a picture of the finished sauce/product, but that's because I was too hungry. In any case, here are some pictured of the lahanodolmades
If you are looking for more Greek recipes, be sure to check out my delicious  Spinach Pie and my recipe for Biftekia (Greek Burgers)


  1. They look delicious!! My mom makes them really often! She also adds minced meat