Apples are a staple of ancient Persian and modern Iranian cooking, where they are often found in savory stews and rice dishes. Apples are also used symbolically to represent beauty, especially during New Year celebrations, when they are displayed on a ceremonial cloth, with six other symbolic foods. In this dish, apples as well as currants, red pepper, and onion, flavor the saffron-colored rice and cook inside a tender crust of green cabbage. For a quicker version, the cabbage shell can be omitted, though the rice will have to cook about 10 minutes longer in the skillet.
1 2-pound green cabbage
1 cup long-grain white rice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 small sweet red pepper, seeded
1/3 cup dried currants or chopped and finely chopped raisins
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 cups hot water
1/4 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads or ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon salt
Core the cabbage but keep it whole. In large pot, heat cabbage and enough water to cover to boiling over high heat; reduce heat to simmer and cook 7 minutes. Drain and set aside until cool enough to handle.
Meanwhile, prepare rice. In large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and red pepper; sauté 5 minutes. Stir in cumin and saffron; cook 2 minutes; stir in rice, apple, and currants; cook 2 minutes.
Add water and salt to rice mixture. Heat to boiling; reduce heat to low, cover and cook 12 minutes (rice will be undercooked). Remove rice mixture from heat and set aside.
Remove the 12 best-shaped, largest leaves from the cabbage. Trim the ribs so they are the same thickness as the leaves. (reserve the remaining cabbage for another use.)
Oil the inside of an 8-inch metal colander. Line the bottom and inside of colander with 8 overlapping cabbage leaves. Spoon rice filling cabbage "bowl," packing it tightly. Top with remaining 4 cabbage leaves, tucking ends of leaves inside colander to cover filling completely.
Fill a large pot (one big enough to fit colander inside of) with about 1 inch water. Place colander with stuffed cabbage in pot and heat to simmering. Cover and steam cabbage 20 minutes. Remove colander with cabbage from pot and let cool 10 minutes. Place a flat serving plate upside down on top of colander, then holding the plate and colander firmly together, turn them over. Gently lift the colander off cabbage and serve.
Nutrition information per serving 3/4
Protein: 5g; Fat: 3g; Carbohydrate: 45g; Fiber: 5g; Sodium: 203mg; Cholesterol: 0mg; Calories: 213