Stuffed cabbage rolls. I was craving something comforting and soul warming, and boy did this fit the bill. It’s delicious, and soul satisfying, with sausage flavors, and plenty of various veggies. There is a bit of crunch from the nuts, and a bit of sweet from the apricots. I had gotten most of the way there, but knew something was missing. I knew the stuffing, and the rolls, but I just couldn’t figure out what the last thing was. That is when my friend Jim stepped in and smacked me in the head with cooking it in tomato sauce. Well frikken DUH! It was absolutely the last little thing this needed. Oh MAN. This is JUST what the doctor ordered on a cold winters day.
This recipe is split into two parts. First, the filling, then the actual assembly of the rolls. It was just easier on my poor little pea brain to do it this way. First up, the filling!
– 1 onion chopped
– 3 cloves of garlic chopped
– 3 leeks chopped (When working with leeks, make sure to rinse them REALLY well. Sand loves to hang out and collect in all those layers!)
– 2 or 3 large handfuls of spinach, chopped up
– 1 lb ground pork (turkey or chicken would work here too)
– 1/4 tsp fennel seed, crushed a little between your fingers
– 1/2 tsp paprika
– 1/2 tsp thyme
– 1/2 tsp oregano
– 1 tsp parsley
– 10 dried apricots chopped up (Now, these give the rolls almost a whiff of a floral scent. If that isn’t your thing, try using raisins instead.)
– 1/2 cup slivered almonds
First, throw some oil into a pan. I like to use my dutch oven for this. (Well, lets face it, I like to use my dutch oven for everything that I can.) Once the oil heats up a little, toss the onion, garlic, and leeks in the pan. Grind some pepper and a couple good pinches of salt.
Let them cook down quite a bit, and get translucent. Once they look fairly cooked down and start to look translucent, turn the heat off.
As soon as the heat is off, throw the spinach into the pan. The residual heat will wilt the spinach up nicely.
YUM! Once it’s wilted up, move it from the pan, and let it cool down a bit. While it’s cooling, prepare the meat portion of the evening!
Throw the meat into a container. Throw all the herbs in with it, as well as another good sized pinch of salt.
Mix the herbs in, and then throw the apricots and nuts in there…
And then the veg. Mix everything together, stick a top on it, and put it in the fridge. Let all the flavors and deliciousness meld together for a couple hours. TADA! Filling done.
The second part of the recipe is dealing with the cabbage, stuffing it and then cooking it!
– Smallish cabbage
– tomato sauce. Just use whatever you like, or have floating around. Leftover sauce in the freezer? That works fine!
– The stuffing we made earlier
– a big pot of salted, boiling water
I don’t know why I’m an idiot, but I am. I forgot to take pictures of the whole “blanching of the cabbage leaf to soften it up a bit.” Basically, peel the cabbage leaves off the head, wash them, then stick them into a pot of boiling water. I worked on about three leaves at a time. So yeah, blanch a few leaves.
Stick a small amount of the filling in the middle of the cabbage leaf. fold the top and bottom over the wad of filling, and then the sides over.
And make a pretty little roll. Keep going until all the filling is rolled up.
It’s almost a shame to do anything with them, since they are so pretty. Seriously. SO PRETTY.
I mean, look at those. Anyway, get a big old baking dish, and pit a layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of the dish, and then cram the rolls into the dish on top of the sauce.
Cover the rolls with the last of the tomato sauce.
Cover the dish with tin foil, and bake it in the oven at 350 degrees for about an hour. (You can see where I took one out to make sure it was done.)
My god, these are delicious. Serve them up with a little of the tomato sauce that they baked in. ENJOY!!