Showing posts with label Stuffed Vegetables. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Stuffed Vegetables. Show all posts

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Palestinian-Style Stuffed Cabbage Rolls, or Malfouf

Sometimes a little time produces a lot of joy. 

For us, this is a dish of joy.  Palestinians are known for their love of stuffing things with rice and meat, and if you are ever so fortunate to find yourself in a Palestinian's home, chances are good that you will be invited to share a meal like this. Garlicky and lemony, these tender rolls of cabbage filled with spiced meat and rice play a special role in the cast of dinner dishes that rotate through the Palestinian kitchen.

Behind us are the days of cousa mahshi, or stuffed summer squash; now, the cabbage beckons.  I had one last beautiful one from our final delivery of our CSA, and I considered its destiny.  It took some time for me to build up the gumption to create this meal, but once I did, I discovered that while this stuffed dish takes time, it is actually less fussy and easier than most of the other stuffed dishes. Malfouf, (or malfoof), is the Arabic word for cabbage, and this dish is so ubiquitous that if you way you are having cabbage for dinner, everyone will understand that you are referring to this dish.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Cousa Mahshi, or Stuffed Baby Summer Squash



Cooking is a communal activity in traditional Palestinian culture, and when you read this recipe, you will see why.  Whenever families gather together to share a meal, you will find aunties and tetas (grandmothers) gathered around the kitchen table, rolling these delicate grape leaves and scooping out the soft flesh of the cousa.  Time flies quickly when many are gathered to do the work, while sharing jokes and family gossip, and passing cups of hot mint tea. Aunties teach their nieces how to roll the grape leaves hayk, like this, nice and tight, so that they don't unravel in the hot pot.  Grandmothers cluck their tongues and roll, and re-roll the grape leaves until every one is just right, and then pop them all into the pot.  Rolling grape leaves and stuffing cousa is an art form, one that can be learned in an hour, but mastered over years.

Friday, August 9, 2013

How to Make Palestinian Rolled Grape Leaves, or Waraqa Dawali

We are back from a nice long visit with my family in Michigan.  The trip was glorious, full of excellent food, and plenty of sun and lake adventure.  My mother, the most talented Rhoda, bossed me around in the kitchen, taught me a great deal, actually measured her ingredients, and waited patiently for me to photograph food.  She was such a trooper.  The first dish that I asked her to teach me how to make was this dish, rolled grape leaves.  I have helped her make it several other times before, but this time I took notes.  

Stuffed grape leaves are something to get excited about.  The lemony flavor of  Palestinian grape leaves, cooked until tender and stuffed with a spiced rice and meat mixture, served with a squeeze of lemon juice and a bowl of yogurt - who can resists them?  Most Americans are probably familiar with the Greek version of this dish, dolma, which are also delicious but flavored differently.  Waraqa dawali, which means "rolled leaves" is usually prepared with another dish, stuffed squash, or cousa mahshi

Friday, August 2, 2013

Stuffed Sweet Peppers and Tomatoes: An Easy Introduction to the Arab Art of Stuffing Vegetables

I adore peppers.  My love affair started when I was old enough to sit in the front of a shopping cart.  My mother tells me that my favorite treat from the market was a green pepper, which I would clutch in my arms until we got home.  She would put me in my high chair while putting away the groceries, and then slice it up for me and give me a little homemade vinaigrette to dip it in.  This was such a favorite snack that my mother claims that she used slices of green pepper to reward my potty training efforts.

(In case you're wondering, this hasn't worked on my children.)

A Love Affair with Stuffed Vegetables

Now Palestinians love to stuff vegetables.  They love to stuff zucchini, eggplant, cabbage . . . any vegetable that can be turned into a conduit for a rice and meat stuffing has indeed been stuffed by an Arab woman.  Menu-planning, if you are Palestinian, is pretty simple:  keep a supply of meat and rice on hand, and then go to the vegetable market and bring home several boxes of seasonal vegetables.  Stuff the vegetables with rice and meat, cook it in one big pot, and dinner is done.  One day it is stuffed cabbage, another day it is green beans and meat over rice, another day it is stuffed squash, and then the last day might be a stuffed chicken.  Serve all of this with yogurt, a fresh salad, a little bread, and dinner is done. 

Cooking lessons are given from mother to daughter, so no one follows recipes.  They simply mix up the rice filling, scaling quantities up or down depending on the number of mouths to feed, and then start stuffing vegetables.  If they have leftover filling after making their main dish (usually stuffed cabbage rolls or stuffed cousa, a summer squash), then they use up the leftover filling by stuffing a few tomatoes or peppers, which they always have on hand.  So stuffed peppers and tomatoes are a convenient use-up, not the star of the table.