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 tomatoes
  • 1 cabbage head

Dolmeh Stuffing:

  • 2 1/4 cup of cooked Basmati rice
  • 1 cup of yellow split peas (soaked for 1-2 hours before using)
  • 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 Tbsp. cooking oil
  • 1 small yellow onion diced
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 package of plant-based ground meat (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste (from 6 oz can of tomato paste)
  • 1 tsp. of turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp. lemon juice
  • The pulp of the 3 big tomatoes

Dolmeh Sauce:

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

Directions

  1. Wash the bell peppers and tomatoes. Cut the tops and empty the pulp inside the vegetables. Save the tops without the stems (as pictured above), and save the pulp of the tomatoes for the 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. Drain and peel each cabbage leaf. Remove the hard rib in each leaf by cutting out the center (as pictured below).

Dolmeh Stuffing:

  1. Add 1 Tbsp. cooking oil to a large pan on medium/high heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent (about 5 minutes).
  2. Add the garlic and sauté 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add all the spices and herbs and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
  4. 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 and any juice absorbed. Set aside, and let it cool
  5. Fill a small pot with water. Add the yellow split peas and cook on medium/high heat for 15 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool.
  6. 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.

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

Noosh-e-jan! (Enjoy!)

SERVES 6 people