Stuffed Cabbage with Fire-Roasted Tomato Sauce

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Consistent with recent posts, this dish was inspired by my latest CSA share – particularly, the cabbage. and more specifically, the Late Flat Dutch cabbage. I rarely buy cabbage, so I was at somewhat of a loss as to what I should do with it. Then, I remembered my mom making stuffed cabbage once upon a time and loving it. Problem solved. However, having no idea where to start, I read through countless recipes until I crafted one of my own.

Ironically enough, it wasn’t until I was eating my stuffed cabbage that I learned the origin of this dish. On two separate occasions, a roommate and a coworker questioned what I was eating. When I replied, “stuffed cabbage,” they replied, “halupki?!” Uh, maybe? As it turns out, yes. Halupki is the traditional word for stuffed cabbage, which is a traditional Polish dish. I always joke that I’m a grandma; now, we’ll stick to babushka, thankyouverymuch.

Anyway, in the middle of cooking, I was so nervous that I was burning the sauce, yet I had to allow for ample cooking time to ensure that the meat and rice were cooked through. Luckily, I kicked my nerves to the curb and cooked the dish as planned. After tasting the sauce, I realized that the sauce had caramelized instead of burned. The result was a nutty, mildly sweet flavor that complimented the bitterness of the cabbage and the savoriness of the meat so well. This, ladies and gents, is why I love experimental cooking. Rest assured, the meat and rice were cooked perfectly, too.

I must say, this dish was super yummy. Anyone who knows me well knows how much I hate leftovers, so the fact that I ate stuffed cabbage for lunch four days in a row certainly says something. While stuffed cabbage is traditionally served with mashed potatoes, I did without them. To me, two cabbage rolls were extremely fulfilling on their own.

Note: This recipe makes four servings, as one serving consists of two cabbage rolls.

PART 1: THE SAUCE

What you’ll need:

  • 28 oz. fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 6 oz. tomato paste
  • 6 oz. water
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 a yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. pure cane sugar
  • Cracked black pepper and Himalayan salt to taste

What you’ll do:

  • Combine all ingredients in a large pot
  • Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, for one hour

PART 2: THE STUFFED CABBAGE

What you’ll need:

  • 8 green cabbage leaves
  • 1 lb. ground meat (I went with lamb, but any meat will do)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 a yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup raw long grain brown rice
  • Cracked black pepper and Himalayan salt as desired

What you’ll do:

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil; meanwhile, prepare a large bowl of ice water; blanch the cabbage leaves in the boiling water for one minute; then, immediately place the blanched leaves in ice water; once cooled, drain and pat dry
  • Combine the meat, egg, onion, rice, pepper, and salt in a mixing bowl; divide into eight equally-sized cylinders
  • Preheat the oven to 325°F; meanwhile, place one of the cylinders near the bottom of a cabbage leaf, fold the sides up, and roll into a neat bundle; repeat this process seven more times
  • Add a generous layer of sauce to the bottom of a glass baking dish; next, add the stuffed cabbage, seam facing downward; cover the cabbage rolls with the remaining sauce
  • Bake for two hours, rotating the baking dish halfway through

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