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Spiced Cabbage Rice from Thrace

This is a great vegan or vegetarian main course, originally from the northern Greek province of Thrace, where the food is a little spicier than it is elsewhere in Greece. You can also serve this as a side dish for grilled meat, chicken, and game. It's great with duck and it's even great with Thanksgiving turkey.
SERVES 4

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil preferably Greek, or butter
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped onion
  • 3 ½ cups washed thinly shredded green cabbage
  • 1 cup peeled and chopped plum tomatoes
  • 2 ¾ cups water
  • 1 cup long-grain rice preferably brown rice
  • ½ cup dark seedless raisins
  • ½ cup finely chopped blanched almonds*
  • ¼ tsp. cinnamon
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

  1. 1. In a heavy stewing pot, heat the olive oil or butter and sauté onion until soft, 2 to 3 minutes. Add cabbage and sauté over medium heat, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until soft and translucent, 3 to 5 minutes.
  2. 2. Add tomatoes and water and bring mixture to a gentle boil. Add rice, raisins, almonds, cinnamon, cayenne, and salt. Lower heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently, until liquid is absorbed and rice cooked.
  3. 3. Place mixture into a lightly buttered mold and allow to set for 8 to 10 minutes, then turn out onto a platter. Or toss gently in serving bowl. Serve warm.

Notes

* You get the most flavorful blanched almonds by doing the blanching yourself. Take whole, unroasted almonds and drop them into boiling water for about 45 seconds. Remove, drain in a colander and rinse with cold water. Remove the skins by squeezing the almonds, one at a time, between your thumb and index finger. The skins should slip right off.