Sweet and sour stuffed cabbage balls

    Serves 6 to 8

    • 1 large head cabbage
    • ¾ cup white rice
    • ¾ cup barley
    • 3½ cups water
    • 1 Tbs. vegetable oil
    • salt
    • ¾ cup coarsely chopped pine nuts or pistachio nuts
    • 2 eggs
    • ½ tsp. dried dill weed or 1 tsp. fresh
    • black pepper to taste
    • 1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped
    • ½ cup raisins
    • 2 lbs. peeled tomatoes, sliced or coarsely chopped
    • ⅓ cup sugar
    • ⅓ cup lemon juice

    1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Core the cabbage, put it in the boiling water, cover, and let it simmer for about 20 minutes, or just until the leaves are tender enough to peel away easily. Drain the cabbage and allow it to cool enough so that it can be easily handled.
    2. Meanwhile, combine the rice and barley in a medium-sized saucepan and add the 3½ cups of water. Stir in 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, and bring the water to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, covered, for about 40 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the rice and barley stand, covered, for ½ hour; all the water should be absorbed. Stir in the nuts, eggs, dill weed, black pepper, chopped onions, and raisins, as well as more salt if it is needed.
    3. Scoop out about 2 heaping tablespoons of the mixture and form it into a ball between the palms of your hands, the way you would form a snowball. Peel off one of the soft cabbage leaves and wrap it around the ball of filling, smoothing the cabbage against the rice ball with your hands and overlapping all the edges as securely as you can. The soft cabbage will cling to the rice ball as it is smoothed around. The rice ball must be completely wrapped in the cabbage, but as you continue and the cabbage leaves get smaller, you can use two of them to wrap around one ball of filling. It’s all easier than it sounds.
    4. Combine the tomatoes and all their juice with the sugar, lemon juice, and salt to taste; stir well.
    5. Spoon ⅓ of this mixture into a large, heavy-bottomed enameled pot or fireproof casserole.
    6. Arrange a layer of cabbage balls on top of the tomatoes, fitting them snugly next to each other but not squeezing them. Spoon another ⅓ of the tomato mixture over them and make a second layer of cabbage balls. Pour the remaining tomatoes over the top, together with any leftover cabbage, coarsely chopped.
    7. Cover the pot or casserole tightly and simmer over the lowest heat for 25 minutes. Put the stuffed cabbage away in the refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours, then simmer it for another 25 minutes on low heat or heat it in a preheated 350-degree oven for 45 to 50 minutes.