Stews Aren’t Just For Meat Lovers

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I love to eat stuffed cabbage, but somehow never find the time for its laborious preparation: blanching cabbage leaves, making a farce, preparing a sauce, rolling up the stuffed leaves and baking them for an hour or longer.

Imagine my delight, therefore, when I discovered Kapuska while leafing through a Turkish cookbook.

This delicious winter stew offers all the flavors (and anti-cancer nutrients) of cabbage rolls –cabbage, onions, garlic, carrots, tomatoes, herbs and spices – without the work! In fact, it’s ridiculously easy to cook Kapuska: everything happens in one pot and aside from a bit of prep work, it’s mostly hands-off simmering time.

Kapuska can be made with lamb or beef, and vegetarians can substitute the meat with beans or chickpeas, a common preparation in Turkey.

Just before serving, I sprinkle this with a minimalist gremolata of parsley and raw garlic that really amps up the flavor when stirred into the hot stew.

Kapuska (Turkish cabbage stew) recipe. Serves 4 to 6.

1 tbsp olive oil
2 large white onions, coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1lb/450g lean lamb, finely cubed (I buy cubed stewing lamb and cut the cubes into 4-6 even smaller pieces)
a small head of green cabbage, quartered, cored and coarsely shredded
2 carrots, finely sliced
one 15-oz/400g can tomatoes, diced
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp paprika powder
1 tsp caraway seeds
a pinch of chili flakes
1½ cups chicken bone broth or water
a squeeze of lemon juice
salt, freshly ground black pepper
½ cup parsley
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

In a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high, warm olive oil and cook onions for 5 minutes, stirring, until translucent. Add garlic and meat and cook another 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Now add cabbage, carrots, tomatoes, tomato paste, paprika powder, caraway seeds, chili flakes, pepper and salt. Stir and bring to a boil; then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for one hour, or until the meat is very tender. (If using a slow cooker, transfer the mixture at this point and cook for 6 hours on “low.”)

When you are ready to serve the stew, season it to taste with lemon juice, salt and pepper. With a mezzaluna (curved herb chopper) or a chef’s knife, finely chop the parsley and garlic slices.

Ladle the stew into soup bowls and top with the chopped herbs. Serve immediately.

This recipe was developed for my Mediterranean Weight Loss Program and is low in carbohydrates and fat. If you are not trying to lose weight, you can add extra calories in the form of additional carbohydrates and fat. For instance, you could:
– add ½ cup parboiled rice (e.g. Uncle Ben’s) and an additional cup of stock/water to the stew
– cook small, firm potatoes (in their skins) separately and serve with the stew
– accompany the stew with a slice of crusty sourdough bread per person
– drizzle each plated serving with a teaspoon of olive oil before scattering with herbs

Visit Conner’s website,, to find out more about her anticancer diet coaching services and her book, Zest for Life: The Mediterranean Anti-Cancer Diet, with over 150 heavily plant-based recipes.


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