November 13, 2011

Cabbage Rolls

Sometimes you just get a hankering for some good old-fashioned comfort food. You know, the kind that looks awful and is impossible to photograph, but tastes wonderful and feels warm in your belly. For some reason I had a hankering for cabbage rolls. I don't really know why. I used to hate them as a kid. I also hated olives, pickles, most vegetables, wine (not to say I drank it a lot as a kid, but the sips I had I thought were disgusting and didn't know why adults liked it so much) and peppers. Now I eat olives and pickles straight from the jar, love wine and apparently like cabbage rolls. I still hate peppers.

There is really no way to make this post glamorous or pretty-looking. Besides the fact that I made cabbage rolls, I also tend to sometimes be messy when I cook. It's quite difficult to keep my "mise en place" pristine when my kitchen is the size of a walk-in closet. I don't think I've shared a picture of my kitchen on the blog yet, but this is what I have to work with:

Only one person can cook or move in the kitchen at a time, so this is why there is sometimes a little clutter in my food photos. One day I will have a gorgeous kitchen and take beautifully styled food photos like the food bloggers I admire, but for now, I will make cabbage rolls in my apartment closet, I mean kitchen.

Cabbage rolls -- an Eastern European speciality-- consist of cabbage stuffed with various fillings, such as meat, rice and vegetables, baked in sauce. If you're looking for a cheap meal that will feed many people or survive many days of meals, then this is that meal.

Cabbage Rolls (adapted from this recipe) Ingredients: 

1 head green cabbage
1/2 cup cooked brown rice
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 pound lean ground beef or turkey
1 tbsp dill, parsley
1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper
1 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
1 tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese


1. Cook rice for 30-40 minutes (You can put the rice in the rolls uncooked, but because I was using brown rice, which takes longer to cook, I was worried it wouldn't cook thoroughly in the rolls).
2. Place the cabbage in a large pot of boiling water and boil for about 10 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water.
3. Heat oil in a saucepan and add onion and garlic. Cook until softened.
4. Mix ground meat, rice, dill, salt, pepper, lemon juice and onion mixture.
5. Carefully remove a leaf from the cabbage and lay it on a work surface. Cut out the stem of the leaf. Place desired amount of filling on the leaf and roll closed.
6. Spread a layer of tomato sauce in a casserole dish and place finished rolls in the dish close together and snug.
7. Pour stock over rolls, then dollop tomato sauce over to cover. Grate parmesan cheese on top if desired.   Bake covered for 40 minutes at 375F, then uncovered for about 20 minutes.
Like many casserole-type dishes, there is no way of making them look or sometimes even sound appetizing, but believe me, there is nothing wrong with doling out a meal in one melted, gooey mess.

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