Thursday, June 23, 2011

Cabbage Rolls with Whole-Grain Bread Stuffing

We got a huge head of green cabbage in our CSA this week, so I decided to use some of it to make cabbage rolls. Usually, the filling for stuffed cabbage consists of seasoned ground meat with some grains mixed in, often served with a sauce of some kind. I chose to go a different route this time, and make a vegetarian version I found in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. The cabbage leaves are filled with a stuffing made of whole-grain bread, dates, and dried figs. It reminded me of a stuffing you might see as part of a Thanksgiving spread. It sounded a little weird at first, but I figured, if Mark Bittman recommended it, it had to be good (he called it a bread salad, but to me it looked like a stuffing, so that's what I'll call it).

We actually really liked it! This stuffing would be great on its own too, for Thanksgiving, or just a regular old Thursday in general, for that matter. The dried fruits, sage, and toasted hazelnuts made me ache for fall. We used a really nice aged balsamic vinegar (so thick it looks like syrup as it drizzles out of the bottle) which added a ton of great flavor.

Here is our CSA box for week 3:

One bunch basil, one pound zucchini, 1 giant head cabbage, 2 pounds Nicola potatoes, 1 bunch white turnips, 1 head garlic, one sweet onion, one pint strawberries, one head red leaf lettuce.

I used some of the basil, garlic, and all of the zucchini to make my favorite stuffed zucchini recipe by Rachael Ray. It was so good, especially because I used Prosecco instead of dry white wine.

The next night, we finished off the bottle of Prosecco by braising the turnips and turnip greens. With small turnips like these they would have been fine to just be sliced raw into salads, but I prefer them cooked.

We were able to use the cabbage for so many meals, I'm still amazed just thinking about it. We started out by pulling off the largest leaves for the stuffed cabbage recipe below. Next, we made Inside-Out Spring Rolls, a favorite go-to meal for us. The next night, we sliced some of the remaining cabbage into large wedges, drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roasted it in the oven. We also chopped the sweet onion and some of the potatoes into small wedges, added some sliced chicken apple gouda sausage, tossed in oil, salt and pepper, and roasted that as well. It made for a delicious meal.

After all that, we still have a hunk of cabbage left in the fridge for next week.

We also have a couple of potatoes leftover that as of writing this we haven't used yet. This particular variety of potato is very low on the glycemic index, which means it won't make your blood sugar spike like regular potatoes do, so that's nice if you have to watch your blood sugar.

And as usual, the lettuce went into simple salads, the strawberries onto yogurt and breakfast cereal.

Cabbage Rolls with Whole-Grain Bread Stuffing 
adapted from Mark Bittman - How to Cook Everything Vegetarian
makes 8-12 rolls, about 4 servings

Note: Technically, the recipe for the bread stuffing contains 8 ounces of kale that has been cooked, squeezed dry, and chopped. I omitted it because 1) I didn't have any, 2) I didn't want to buy any, and 3) I was already wrapping the stuffing in cabbage so I figured I was all set for green vegetables. But go ahead and add it if you want.

For the stuffing:
8 ounces whole grain bread (stale is fine), preferably thickly sliced (I used Dave's Killer Bread, because that's what I had)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup chopped dried figs (10-12, depending on the type)
1/4 cup chopped pitted dates (about 4)
1 shallot, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh sage, or 1 teaspoon dried
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts

1 medium head white or Savoy cabbage

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Lay the slices of bread on a baking sheet and toast in the oven, turning a couple of times, until the bread is dried out and golden brown, about 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the bread. Remove from oven and let cool.

Meanwhile, combine the oil, vinegar, figs, dates, shallot, and sage in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

Fill a large bowl with water. Soak the slices of bread for a couple of minutes, then gently squeeze each slice, wringing it out like a cloth, to remove as much excess water as possible. Using your fingers, crumble each slice into the bowl with the other stuffing ingredients. Repeat with remaining slices. Toss to combine. Let sit for at least 20 minutes or up to an hour, stirring occasionally. Stir in the hazelnuts. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.

To prepare the cabbage, use a thin-bladed sharp knife to cut a circle around the core on the bottom of the cabbage. (Bittman suggested cutting out a cone shape to remove the core completely, but I had trouble doing that. The main thing you want to achieve here is cutting away the bottom leaves from the core to make it easier to peel off each leaf without tearing them.

Pull off 8-12 large, untorn leaves from the cabbage. Put these leaves in a steamer basket above a couple inches of salted water. Cover and cook until the leaves just become flexible enough to bend. I had to do this in batches because I have a small steamer basket.

Remove the leaves from the steamer, and let cool for a minute or two, until cool enough to handle. Cut a 'V' in each leaf to remove the tough central stem.

To stuff the leaves, lay a leaf curved side up (the outer side of the leave is facing you) on a counter or cutting board. Place about 1/4 cup of the filling (or more, if the leaves are very large) in the center of the leaf, near the cut-out part of the stem. Fold in the sides, then roll up from the stem end, like you're rolling up a little burrito. Do not roll them too tightly because the mixture will expand as it cooks.

At this point you can cover and refrigerate the cabbage rolls for a day or two. Let them come back up to room temperature before proceeding.

Lay the cabbage rolls seam side down in the steamer basket, cover and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until the cabbage is tender. Serve immediately.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds good! I love reading about what you do with the CSA veggies every week. I love cabbage, I can eat a head of cabbage myself in a week or two before it goes bad.


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