Dolmeh (Stuffed Vegetables)

Dolmeh is a stuffed vegetable dish enjoyed in many cultures. I remember growing up, my grandmother always made Persian dolmeh with stuffed tomatoes, bell peppers, and cabbage. My favorite was the stuffed cabbage.

The stuffing in Persian dolmeh is generally made with rice, yellow split peas and meat. The meat can be easily excluded for a plant-based dish. For those who prefer to have a meat substitute, we prepared this recipe using Trader Joe’s Beef-less Ground Beef, although another plant-based meat alternative could be used.

Full disclosure, my kids will eat the dolmeh stuffing, but the vegetable shell is left untouched. Parents, beware. 🙂

Ingredients

Dolmeh Vegetables:

  • 3 bell peppers
  • 3 big round tomatoes
  • 1 cabbage head

Dolmeh Stuffing:

  • 2 1/2 cup of cooked Basmati rice
    • Prepare generally about 1 cup uncooked Basmati rice according to package instructions.
  • 1 cup of yellow split peas (rinsed and soaked for 1 hour before using)
  • 1 Tbsp. cooking oil
  • 1 small yellow onion diced
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 tsp. of turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin powder
  • 3/4 cup of dry Sabzi Polo herb The Sabzi Polo herb can be found at a Persian, Afghan, Indian or other specialty store. I have even bought it on Amazon.
  • 1 package of plant-based ground meat (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp. lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste (from 6 oz can of tomato paste)
  • The pulp of the 3 big tomatoes (roughly chopped)

Dolmeh Sauce:

  • 1 Tbsp. cooking oil
  • 1 cup water
  • Remaining 6 oz can of tomato paste
  • 3 roma tomatoes thinly sliced

Directions

  1. Wash the bell peppers and tomatoes. Cut the tops and scoop out the pulp inside the vegetables. Save the tops without the stems (as pictured above), and save the pulp of the tomatoes for the dolmeh stuffing.
  2. Wash the cabbage head.
  3. Fill a large pot 3/4 full with water and bring to a boil. Add the whole cabbage head and cook for 25-30 minutes on medium heat. If the cabbage is not fully submerged in the water, flip over half way through the cooking time.
  4. Drain and let cool. Remove with a sharp knife the stem (as pictured for below). Carefully peel each cabbage leaf. Remove the hard rib in each leaf by cutting out the center (as pictured below).

Dolmeh Stuffing:

  1. Fill a small pot with water. Add the yellow split peas and cook on medium/high heat for 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. Add 1 Tbsp. cooking oil to a large pan on medium heat.
  3. Add the onion and sauté until translucent (about 5 minutes).
  4. Add the garlic and sauté 1-2 minutes.
  5. Add all the spices and herbs and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
  6. Add the plant-based ground meat, lemon juice, 2 Tbsp. tomato paste and the pulp of the 3 big tomatoes. Sauté until the tomatoes are cooked and soft.
  7. Mix the cooked Basmati rice, cooked yellow split peas, and the sautéed mixture. This is the dolmeh stuffing.

Stuff the Vegetables:

  1. Stuff the tomatoes and bell peppers with the dolmeh stuffing. Place the tops back on the vegetables.
  2. Place a spoonful of dolmeh stuffing on each cabbage leaf and wrap the leaves around.
  3. Add 1 Tbsp. cooking oil to a large pot. Add the remaining tomato paste, sliced Roma tomatoes and 1 cup of water. Stack the vegetables in the pot, cover and cook on medium/low for 30 to 40 minutes until peppers are fork tender.

Serve the Dolmeh on a platter and add the sauce remaining in the pot on top.

Noosh-e-jan! (Enjoy!)

SERVES 6 people