Side-Dish Cabbage Rolls
Cabbage rolls are a bit fiddly to put together, but there is something delightful about receiving your food in a neat little package. It's a present! Usually they are the main course, and contain meat or at least some kind of substantial protein or grain, but I thought I would do something a little different, and make them a vegetable side-dish. I have to say, I really loved them!
The fiddly-ness is mostly chopping vegetables, and once you've made enough cabbage rolls to have the stem-shaving down, they are really quite quick and straightforward to put together. All the work also happens at the front end, so you have lots of time to work on the rest of dinner while these are in the oven. Mind you, I think something relatively simple is a good plan for serving with these - chops, steak, plain baked chicken (thighs could go in at the same time as the cabbage rolls), broiled fish, grilled tofu - they are going to be agreeable with a lot of different things.
The dill pickle brine and paprika make these piquant, and I have to say the sour cream or yogurt really finished them - I don't know that I would describe it as optional. I didn't actually use a turnip, as I had a kohlrabi in the fridge that won't last as long. You could use some rutabaga or celery instead if you preferred. You could make them more substantial with about a cup of cooked rice, quinoa, or other grain added, but in that case you will need a few more cabbage leaves and should be prepared to apply the pickle brine and tomato sauce with a slightly heavier hand.
3 to 4 servings
1 hour 45 minutes - 45 minutes prep time
6 to 8 large whole Savoy cabbage leaves
1 medium carrot
1 medium-small turnip (or similar)
1 medium onion
1 cup chopped mushrooms
2 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
freshly ground black pepper to taste, possibly salt
1 teaspoon rubbed savory
1 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
1/2 cup dill pickle brine
3/4 to 1 cup tomato sauce
thick yogurt OR sour cream to serve
Put a large pot of water on to boil. Carefully remove outer leaves in good condition from a large cabbage. Shave the stems down to as close to the thickness of the rest of the leaf as you can. Once the water boils and you have your leaves ready, blanch them in batches until just softened, then rinse them in cold water to stop them cooking any further. Drain well. This can be done up to a day ahead.
Peel and grate the carrot. Peel and grate the turnip. Peel and chop the onion. Clean and chop the mushrooms. Peel and mince the garlic. Other than the garlic, this too can be done up to a day ahead.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly oil a shallow baking (lasagne) pan which will hold the cabbage rolls snugly. (Should be 1.5 litre/quart, or 8" x 10").
Put the oil in a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add the prepared vegetables and cook until softened and reduced in volume by half. Stir frequently. Season with pepper, savory, and paprika when close to done. You may wish to add a little salt, but it will depend on how salty the dill pickle brine is.
Remove the vegetables from the heat, and allow them to cool enough to handle. Divide them amongst the prepared cabbage leaves, rolling them up and placing them in the oiled pan. Pour the dill pickle brine and tomato sauce over them evenly, and bake for 1 hour. Check them half way through the cooking time, and if they look like they are drying out, cover them with some foil.
Best served with a dollop of thick yogurt or sour cream.
Last year at this time I made Buck-"Meat" Balls (or Patties).