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Middle Eastern Spiced Lamb and Barley-Stuffed Cabbage with Tomato and Fig Sauce

An amazing, hearty dish loaded with exotic spice flavors and tastes. This dish is rich in healthful benefits, even more so when naturally raised lamb is chosen. Dishes like this are high in the foods that reduce chronic low-level inflammation and reverse the curse of the modern Western Diet. But most importantly, they are sumptuous!


  • 1 large head purple cabbage, including outer leaves
  • Sauce (recipe follows)
  • Stuffing (recipe follows)


  • 3 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 onions; chopped
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes and their juice
  • ¼  cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbs honey
  • ½  cup chopped figs
  • 1 ½ tsp. salt
  • ¾  tsp. fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp. Middle Eastern spice blend*


  • 1 pound grass fed ground beef or bison
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • ½ cup yellow onions; minced
  • 1 ½ cups cooked barley
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme;  minced
  • ½ tsp. fresh rosemary; minced
  • ½ tsp. fresh mint; minced
  • 1 ½  tsp. salt
  • ½  tsp. fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbs Middle Eastern spice blend*


Sauce: Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until the onions are translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Cabbage leaves: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Remove the entire core of the cabbage with a knife. Put the cabbage in the boiling water for a few minutes. As each outer leaf comes free, remove it and place it in an ice bath to arrest the cooking process. Set the leaves aside.

Stuffing:  In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix well.

Assemble: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place 1 cup of the sauce in the bottom of a large Dutch oven or other large oven proof container. Remove the base of the rib from each cabbage leaf. Have the base of each leaf closest to you. Place roughly ½ cup of stuffing nearest the closest third of the leaf towards the base. Roll up like a burrito; rolling away from you toward the leaf top edge, taking care to tuck the sides in as you roll. Place the cabbage rolls seam sides down into the container. Add more sauce and more cabbage rolls alternately until they are all in the baking vessel. Pour any remaining sauce over the top. Cover with the lid and bake for approximately 1 hour or until the meat is thoroughly cooked.

*Use the recipe for Middle Eastern Spice blend, create your own or purchase a prepared blend.


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