My friend recently told me about a stuffed cabbage dish she was planning on making, loosely based on this recipe. I got really excited because I love cabbage and I love stuffed foods. I got to work on my version of the recipe last night, and it came out deliciously (MM will share the leftovers with me tonight, so I hope he likes it too).
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 2 TB Kalamata olives, chopped
- 1 cup cooked lentils (try Trader Joe’s steamed lentils)
- 1 TB cup chopped parsley
- 8 leaves of green cabbage
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 TB olive oil
- 32 oz can diced tomatoes
- 1/2 cup tomato sauce
- 1 tsp salt free Italian Seasoning
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- S&P to taste
I chose to use these ingredients because I thought the flavors would go well together. In the recipe I linked to, she uses mint, goat cheese and no lentils. My friend uses rice, herbs, feta, lentils and pine nuts. You can stuff it with any combination of herbs, grains, and cheese. The lentils make it more hearty, and they also help keep the stuffing together.
Start by heating a large pot of water to boil. While water is boiling combine quinoa, feta, olives, lentils and parsley in a medium bowl and set aside. Separate the cabbage leaves from the head very carefully so you don’t rip them too much (a little ripping is okay, but try to keep them as in tact as you can). Put the cabbage leaves in the boiling water, cover and lower to medium heat. Cook for about 6-8 minutes and remove from pot onto a paper towel to dry.
To make the sauce, heat the oil in a large pot (you may use the same pot that you used for the cabbage leaves, just drain and dry first). Add the garlic and saute for about 30 seconds before adding the diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. Add the seasoning and heat under medium low-heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Make sure all the cabbage leaves have mostly dried, or dry them a bit more with a paper towel. They will be very soft and break easily, so handle delicately. To stuff the cabbage leaves, put about 1/2 cup of the quinoa mix near the stem of the cabbage leaf. Roll the stem into the stuffing, tucking the sides in and wrapping the tip of the leaf around it (the instructions on the original recipe are better than mine, but you get the idea). It’s like wrapping a mini burrito. Just keep it tight, and let it sit with the seam side down so it molds a little before you put it in the sauce. Do this with each cabbage leaf until you run out of leaves or stuffing – whichever happens first (in my case I ran out of leaves, but the leftover stuffing made for a great snack). Use a spatula to add the stuffed cabbage rolls to the tomato sauce, and set down gently so the rolls don’t come apart.
Cover with a lid and cook for about 8-10 minutes. Once cooked the cabbage leaves will be very tender. Transfer to a plate and top with leftover sauce. I didn’t pair this with any wine last night, but I think it would go very well with a Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, such as the 2009 Twomey.