Toward the end of summer, I am inundated with a number of things: a list of projects I did not quite have time for, happy memories of swimming in ponds and rivers, and a few too many heads of cabbage from our local farm share. I have gotten pretty good at making all kinds of cole slaw. I now add cabbage to pretty much every stir-fry I make. And sometimes, when the mood strikes just right and I have a free hour or two at dinner time, I remember to make stuffed cabbage!
Stuffed cabbage recipes abound from so many cultures, with ethnic and regional ingredients and flavors, connections to holidays, and favored presentations. It’s a fun recipe to make with kids: all the chopping, stirring and especially the rolling, has a certain appeal! And then, the presentation, with all the neatly rolled individuals leaning into one another in the pan, well, they are hard to resist. This recipe is savory, sweet and a little tangy all at once.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 1 head of green cabbage
For the innards of the rolls:
- 1 pound ground chicken or turkey breast. I have also made with firm tofu, but take time to let the water drain from the tofu. (Put between two cutting boards and use a weight on top like a half full tea kettle atop the upper board. Raise one end and inch or two and let the other drain to the sink.)
- 1/2 cup cooked rice
- 1 small onion, minced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup raisins, currants or chopped dates
For the sauce you will cook the rolls in and drizzle on top:
- 1 red pepper, cut into ½ inch or so pieces
- 1 onion, minced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 TBSP lemon or lime juice
- 1/8 cup maple syrup if you want
- Many will want to salt and pepper this sauce, I usually only use pepper
- One can diced tomatoes or two big tomatoes cut into small pieces, capture all the juice!
- 8 ounces any tomato puree, tomato juice or sauce you happen to have around
- 2 mores tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
In the olive oil, simmer the onions & garlic until clear, then brown your poultry or tofu and add in the raisins. Leave in the pan until all the flavors intertwine. Add in the rice.
Meanwhile, get your sauce cooking up by sautéing the onions & garlic in olive oil until clear, add in the red peppers until soft and then all the other ingredients.
Many people boil their cabbage leaves first, but I don’t. Wash the cabbage, peel off your larger leaves. Take a 1/3 cup or so of your cooked mixture and lay inside the leaf. Fold in the sides first, then roll up like you’d make a rollup sandwich.
Meanwhile, take two ladles-full or so of your sauce and spread generously on the bottom of an 8 x 12 Pyrex cooking pan or equivalent. Place each roll, nestled one to the next on top of that sauce and then use the rest of the sauce to smother the remaining rolls.
Cook at 350 degrees for an hour or until cooked through.
I like to serve with a piece of toast and a small side salad. Or if I’ve been industrious, with a small cold bowl of borscht with a small peak of sour cream.