Tag Archives: cabbage

Stuffed cabbage

4 Oct

stuffed cabbage

Sukkot, the 7-day Jewish holiday of Sukkot that commemorates the ancient Israelites’ wandering in the desert and also celebrates the fall harvest, starts on the evening of October 13 this year. It’s traditional to serve fall-harvested vegetables, and stuffed cabbage is one of my favorite Sukkot dishes. It reminds me of my Polish- and Russian-born grandmothers. They called the rolls prakas. Others called them holischkes.

How can something that smells so awful taste so delicious? Cooked cabbage is a that cliche of novels and movies about immigrants in tenement houses. I will be the first to admit that the scent of cooking cabbage is not up there with fresh bread and popcorn as an enticing aroma. Cooking it as stuffed cabbage is not as bad, because you also get the bouquet of cooking meat and tomato sauce. But don’t be put off by the fear of cooking cabbage! The end result is well worth it. (When you’re done you can burn a nice-smelling candle to deodorize your kitchen.)

Lots of recipes tell you to boil the head of cabbage and then separate the leaves. This is a mess, because you need a huge pot, and then you have to handle a hot head of cabbage. Others say to cut the leaves off the head of cabbage and parboil them. This is also unsatisfactory, because it’s very hard to get intact leaves off a raw head of cabbage—and then you still have to deal with hot cabbage leaves dripping hot water all over your kitchen.

I have a better way, which I learned from my beloved late Aunt Lili. The only drawback is it takes some planning. At least a week before the holiday, buy your cabbage, wrap it well in foil, and stick it in the freezer. A few days later,  take it from the freezer and put it in your fridge. A block of frozen cabbage takes a long time to defrost, so allow at least five days! You can speed up the process by defrosting it on your counter, but you’ll still need a day or two. Put the frozen cabbage into a large bowl or deep platter, because a lot of water will seep out as it defrosts.

When the cabbage is completely defrosted, cut out the core, and the leaves will just fall away, nice and soft and ready for rolling.

Some people like to make “unstuffed cabbage” by chopping up the cabbage and making meatballs out of the stuffing, then cooking it all together in the tomato sauce. This may be slightly less work, but honestly, the taste is not as good, and you still have to roll the meatballs. The only excuse for doing it this way is if you forget to freeze and thaw your cabbage.

Six years ago I was writing another food blog called Feed the Spirit, part of an online magazine called Read the Spirit, which is still published weekly. I wrote about the Sukkot holiday and included this recipe for stuffed cabbage, and I made this little video to show how easy it is to stuff the leaves.

Ingredients

One large, green cabbage, frozen and then defrosted
2 lb. ground beef
1 cup cooked white rice
1 small onion, chopped fine, or 2 Tbs. dehydrated onion flakes
Garlic powder to taste
1 egg
6 oz. can tomato paste
2 cups water (use the the tomato paste can to measure so you can rinse out the paste that sticks after you spoon it out)
2 Tbs. lemon juice
1 Tbs. brown sugar
½ tsp. salt or to taste
Black pepper to taste
A handful of black raisins

Directions

Combine the ground beef, rice, onion, garlic and egg. Mix well.

Cut the core out of the cabbage and separate the leaves. Cut off any really hard core pieces from the bottom of each leaf, but save the pieces you cut off. Pile the leaves on a plate and set aside.

Place a cabbage leaf on a cutting board or counter and place a few tablespoons of the meat mixture on the leaf near the bottom; mold it into a log shape. Fold the bottom of the leaf up around the filling, then fold in the sides and roll up the leaf into a neat package. Set the filled rolls aside, seam side down, on a plate or cutting board.

When you’ve used up all the meat, chop up any remaining cabbage and put it, together with the pieces you cut from the bottom of the leaves, into a large Dutch oven or slow cooker. Place the cabbage rolls, seam side down, over the chopped-up cabbage.

Combine the tomato paste, water, lemon juice, brown sugar, salt and pepper in a bowl and mix well. The sauce should be fairly thick. Take a tiny taste to see if you like the balance, and add more lemon juice, brown sugar or salt and pepper if necessary.

Pour the sauce over the cabbage rolls. Try to cover the tops of all the rolls with sauce, but the rolls won’t be submerged in sauce yet. The cabbage and meat will produce a lot of “juice” and increase the volume of sauce, so don’t fill your pot or slow cooker to the very brim. You may need to use two pots.

Throw a handful of raisins into the pot(s) after you’ve put in the sauce.

If you use a slow cooker, cook the dish on “high” for at least six hours. If you use a Dutch oven, cover the pot and heat on a medium-high flame until the liquid boils. Now you have a choice: you can continue to cook on the stovetop at a simmer, or you can put the pot in a 300-degree oven. Either way, you will need to cook the stuffed cabbage for about three hours.

You can probably use an Instant Pot, but I haven’t done so and I can’t advise you on how long to cook it — probably about an hour.

Another suggestion, useful if you plan to freeze the cabbage rolls: place the cabbage rolls, seam side down, in an oblong aluminum foil baking pan and pour the sauce over. Cover with foil and cook in the oven. Then you can just pop the whole pan into the freezer after it cools.

Check periodically to be sure the tops of the cabbage rolls aren’t getting too dry and that nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add water as necessary. As the cabbage cooks, the sauce should get much thinner in consistency.

This amount of meat, rice and cabbage will make about 20 cabbage rolls of varying sizes.

The cabbage rolls will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator. They also freeze very well.

Tangy Poppyseed and Pineapple Coleslaw

18 Mar

Pineapple-Poppyseed ColeslawIf you use packaged coleslaw mix, this recipe is very easy.

I don’t like gloppy coleslaw and so I made one recipe of dressing stretch for  a whole cabbage, shredded – the equivalent of two bags of coleslaw mix – and it worked very well. If there’s carrot in your packaged coleslaw mix, you can eliminate the grated carrot, but do add the scallions.

You might want to add a little more than a dash of red pepper flakes – maybe ¼ to ½ tsp. – to give it a little extra zip. If you don’t want to make a lot of coleslaw, use half the dressing ingredients, or make the full amount and save half for another time. It should last several weeks in the fridge.

Ingredients:

1 (8-oz.) can crushed pineapple with juice (or whiz a quarter of a  fresh pineapple, cut into chunks, in the food processor)
½ tsp. salt
Dash of red pepper flakes
1 tsp. finely minced fresh ginger, optional
⅓ cup cider vinegar
3 Tbs. sugar
1 Tbs. cornstarch
1 (1-lb.) bag coleslaw greens or 8 cups mixed shredded green and red cabbage
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 large carrot, grated
1½ tsp. poppy seeds
¼ cup mayonnaise

Directions:

In a small saucepan, combine the crushed pineapple with juice, salt, red pepper flakes, ginger, vinegar, sugar and cornstarch. Whisk together until cornstarch is dissolved. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Cook until dressing is thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

Place shredded cabbage, scallions, carrot and poppy seeds in a large bowl. Stir mayonnaise into the cooled dressing mixture. Add dressing to the vegetables, and toss well to coat.

Serves 6

Stick-to-Your Ribs Cabbage and Bean Soup With Pasta

17 Dec

Cabbage-Bean-Pasta SoupThis is my favorite winter soup recipe. I adapted it from one I got at a Weight Watchers meeting many years ago; I make it every winter. It can stand on its own for lunch – or add a salad and some crusty bread to make a nice dinner. The hardest part of this recipe is opening and recycling all the cans!

The recipe makes a huge potful of soup, but it lasts well in the fridge. The original recipe says it is 3 points per 1½-cup serving, but the Weight Watcher system has changed since then so I can’t say what the points value is now. If you use vegetarian soy crumbles instead of beef, as I do, the soup will have fewer calories and less fat. You can also use high-fiber pasta. Even with regular pasta, it’s high fiber and low fat – and very tasty.

Ingredients:

1 lb. ground beef (or 1 bag veggie “beef” crumbles)
2 tsp. vegetable oil (if you use beef)
3 cups water
A small head of cabbage (1 to 2 lb.), chopped
Large can tomato juice
1 Tbs. dried oregano
1½ tsp. garlic powder
1½ tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. dried thyme
3 15-oz. cans kidney beans, Great Northern beans or a combination, drained and rinsed
3 14.5-oz. cans diced tomatoes, not drained
2 14-oz. cans fat-free beef or vegetable broth (or use 2 cups water and 2 tsp. beef or vegetable stock powder)
8 oz. uncooked pasta (I like elbow macaroni best, but you can also use spaghetti or angel hair pasta broken into smaller pieces or another small shaped pasta like shells)

Directions:

If you use beef, heat the oil in an 8- or 12-quart Dutch oven or stock pot over medium heat and cook the beef until browned, stirring to crumble it. Drain well and return to pan.

Add all remaining ingredients except pasta. If you use veggie crumbles instead of beef, add them at this point as well. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, 2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally. Add a little water if the soup seems too thick.

After 2 hours, raise heat if necessary to bring soup to a boil. Add pasta (if you use spaghetti or angel hair, break it into small pieces) and cook at medium-low heat for another 8 to 10 minutes until pasta is done.

Serves 12

Spinach and Cabbage Salad

7 May

Spinach and Cabbage SaladYikes! I needed a dish for a potluck and didn’t have any time to cook. Solution? This wonderful Spinach and Cabbage Salad, which is soooo easy and soooo yummy!  You can eat mountains of it without worrying about calories too much, because it’s full of fiber and not too heavy on the dressing. The hardest part is picking over the baby spinach to get rid of any really long stems and slimy pieces. If you buy a package of spinach a day or two before you’re making the salad, and it has a good “use by” date, you shouldn’t have to throw away much at all.

If you make this for a potluck and need to drive a long way, or if you have to mix up the ingredients more than an hour before you serve it, add the dressing at the last minute.

Don’t use the entire half-bottle of dressing to start. If you prefer a lightly-dressed salad, you might want to use less. So start with one-quarter or one-third of the bottle and add more if you need to.  Just be sure all the vegetables are coated and the salad seems moist.

You can eat any leftovers the next day, but after that it will be too soggy to enjoy.

Ingredients:

3 cups shredded cabbage or pre-packaged slaw mix (or just use the whole package, which is probably more than 3 cups)
1 bag baby spinach (pick over it to get rid of long stems and slimy bits)
½ cup toasted slivered or sliced almonds
½ cup golden raisins
½ bottle Vidalia onion salad dressing (Westborn Market makes a good one)

Directions:

Combine cabbage, spinach, almonds and raisins. Add dressing just before serving and toss well so that all the ingredients are coated.

Serves 8 to 10

Amish Cabbage Casserole

28 Jan

Amish Cabbage CasseroleOne day I wanted to make a spinach and cabbage salad, so I sent Joe to the store to buy a small cabbage. Alas, all they had was a large cabbage, so after I made the salad, I still had about three-quarters of the cabbage left. I didn’t want to make another slaw, and I didn’t want to just boil it up, although I do like plain, buttered boiled cabbage. I wasn’t in the mood for the old standby sweet-and-sour cabbage and tomato soup. So I looked online and found this recipe for a cabbage casserole, which turned out to be quintessential comfort food, perfect for a dreary winter day like today. It’s also very easy to make, though you’re left with a lot of pots to wash. If you don’t like the idea of using canned cream of mushroom soup, you can make your own sauce using fresh mushrooms and a very thick white sauce (you’ll want it to be as thick as canned cream of mushroom soup). The original recipe called for American cheese, but I think cheddar or Colby cheese gives a better flavor. This can be served as a side dish or as a main dish.

Ingredients:

1 medium head cabbage, shredded (about 12 cups)
1 can cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1 medium onion, chopped
5 Tbs. butter, divided
6 oz. cheese, shredded or cut in cubes
¼ cup dry breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Boil a large pot of water and cook the cabbage until it’s tender, about 10 minutes. Drain thoroughly.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large skillet, sauté the onion in 4 Tbs. butter until soft and golden. Add the soup and cheese and heat, stirring frequently, until the cheese is melted. Place the cabbage in a greased 2-quart baking dish and pour the sauce over it; stir well. Add salt and pepper if you want to (most cheese is salty enough that you don’t have to add additional, but a little pepper is good.)

In a small skillet, melt the remaining 1 Tbs. butter and stir in the breadcrumbs. Continue stirring until the breadcrumbs are lightly browned. Sprinkle over the casserole.

Bake uncovered for 20 to 30 minutes, until the casserole bubbles and the breascrumbs are browned.

Serves 6