Sunday, April 26, 2009
Dolma, the Armenian meal in a vegetable
If there's anything Armenians love to stuff more than their tummies it's vegetables.
Sure, we'll stuff just about any part of a lamb, from stomach to head. We even stuff meat with meat (kuftah!)
But veggies are so easy to make into a colorful and tasty meal. You can even skip the meat if you like and just add a bit of onion and perhaps garlic to spice up the filling.
Just remember that when it comes to stuffability, fatter is better. Walk past those long, skinny cukes that make salads crunchy and lavish your attention on the plump, seedy ones. They're much easier to scoop out, and they hold lots more dolma goodness.
Select an assortment of your favorite fresh vegetables: tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, cucumbers, cabbage leaves - anything that can be stuffed. Wash them, scoop out their centers, and rinse the insides with lightly salted water. Set aside until ready to stuff.
1 1/2 to 2 lbs ground lamb (American lamb, if you can find it, is the best. Ground beef or even ground turkey can be used.)
3/4 cup to 1 cup rice, uncooked
1/2 of a 6-oz can tomato paste, diluted in 1/2 cup water
salt, pepper, paprika to taste
1 Tbps. lemon juice
3/4 cup chopped parsley
Directions: Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl, mixing with
1/3 cup dried sumac berries
dash of salt and sugar
1/2 of a 6-oz can tomato paste
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
3 cups water
1. Place the sumac berries in a tea strainer - or - wrap in cheesecloth and tie closed with twine.
2. Combine the sauce ingredients in a saucepan, and bring to a boil.
Lower the heat.
3. Simmer for 20-30 minutes. Discard sumac berries.
To Assemble and Cook:
1. Fill the cavity of each prepped vegetable about 1/2-way with the meat-rice stuffing. Don't fill completely; leave room for rice to expand.
2. Place stuffed vegetables side-by-side in a large pot.
3. Pour sauce over the veggies. Place a small dish on top of the vegetables, then put small pot of water on top of the dish to hold the vegetables down during cooking.
4. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for about 45 minutes, until rice and vegetables are tender.
5. Allow Dolma to rest for 1/2 hour before serving.
Dolma is best served with thick, cold plain yogurt, and soft Armenian lavash bread or pita bread.