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Romanian Sarmale Stew - Slow Cooker
1 lb ground beef or pork, raw
1/3 head of cabbage, torn into pieces (~3 cups)
2 C sauerkraut
3 C riced cauliflower
26 oz crushed tomatoes (750g box, or 3 cups)
1 onion, diced
1 TBSP olive oil
¼ C fresh parsley, chopped
¼ C fresh dill, chopped (or 4 tsp dried dill)
2 TBSP thyme
sea salt and pepper to taste
1. Combine all ingredients in oiled slow cooker. 2. Cook on high for 4 hours, until beef is thoroughly cooked.
Sarmale (sar-MA-lay) is traditional Romanian stuffed cabbage, usually rolled up with ground pork and rice, and smothered in sour cream.
I've deconstructed it to take out the work of fermenting and rolling cabbage leaves, and made some substitutions to comply with Whole30. It may not be the real deal, but it is 100% Transylvanian-approved and satisfies the sarmale craving you never knew you had!
You can use riced cauliflower found in the frozen vegetable section of your grocer, unfortunately with the popularity of the Keto diet, it's usually sold out. Also beware of added preservatives and chemicals. To make your own, simply pulse washed fresh cauliflower florets in a food processor until it resembles rice. Any leftovers can be sauteed in a pan and seasoned like a rice side-dish.
Find a tomato sauce that is preservative-free - usually just tomatoes and salt - or make your own. Citric or ascorbic acid is a common additive in canned tomatoes, and should be avoided for corn- or mold-sensitive individuals. You can also try a nightshade-free nomato sauce, but results are going to taste much farther from genuine sarmale.
You can make your own sauerkraut 7 days before making this recipe, by following the recipe included on the cabbage page. It could be substituted with fresh cabbage, but it's the fermentation that gives this dish its distinct sarmale flavor.
Be sure to use fresh parsley, not dried!
When not on a dairy-free diet, definitely try it with pastured full-fat sour cream! For a dairy-free sour cream kick, try my cauliflower milk mixed with a spoon of vinegar, and extra dill!