- Prepare your vegetables: Remove individual cabbage leaves from the jar and lay them flat on a cutting board. Spread the grape leaves out on the cutting board. Cut the tops from the bell peppers and remove the seeds and membranes. Cut the stems from the eggplant and use a spoon to scrape out the seeds, creating a hollow cavity in each (you’ll need to remove enough of the eggplant flesh to make room for the stuffing).
- Set aside.
- Make the stuffing: In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until softened, three to four minutes. Stir in the jalapeño, tomatoes with their juices, and two tablespoons of the tomato paste; cook until thickened, about two minutes.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley, cilantro, dill, black pepper, paprika, cumin, chili powder, and salt. Add the rice and stir to combine.
- In a large pot, combine three cups water and the remaining two tablespoons tomato paste. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat.
- Use a spoon to fill the bell peppers and eggplant with three-quarters of the filling. Evenly spoon the remaining filling onto the cabbage and grape leaves, dividing it evenly, then roll the leaves into cylinders like burritos to close.
- In a large, deep skillet or pot, arrange the stuffed cabbage, grape leaves, eggplant, and bell peppers, placing the peppers upright (it’s okay to tuck them in close). Pour enough of the tomato water into the pot to cover the vegetables. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until the rice is tender, about 45 minutes, adding more of the tomato water as needed if the liquid evaporates before the rice is cooked through. You’ll need to taste-test a cabbage roll to determine if the rice is done.
- TIP: If you can’t find jarred cabbage leaves (usually in the ethnic food aisle), use 30 napa cabbage leaves. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Set a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Add the cabbage leaves to the boiling water, a few at a time, and cook until just tender and pliable, one to two minutes (be careful not to overcook them). Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cabbage leaves to the wire rack to drain and let cool before proceeding.
Excerpted from Evolving Vegan by Mena Massoud, published by Tiller Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. Copyright © 2020 by Evolving Vegan, Inc. All rights reserved. Photo credit: Andrew Rowley