Full disclosure: I felt like a babushka making this week’s recipe. Also, this has got to be one of the least photogenic dishes. Ever. Not even the vibrant purple color of the cabbage could save it from lumpy brain-like photos.
Cabbage is good for a few things: slaws, soups, and stir fries. I had gone the slaw route last week (which is precisely why I found myself with two large cabbage halves in the fridge) and was looking for something with less crunch and more warmth. But even with the temperature barely spiking above 78 degrees, I was already feeling pangs of longing for the cool crisp winter air and no part of me wanted to be slurping hot cabbage soup after a balmy subway commute. So I met in the middle and went for a recipe with which I had little experience.
My grandma fed us stuffed cabbage growing up…but her’s was filled with hamburger meat and cooked in a dense tangy-sweet sauce which, delicious as it was, would not please my now meat-free taste-buds. More recently, my friend Marla shared with me her mother’s mushroom and quinoa stuffed cabbage from Passover; it was incredible! I recreated my own version using the ingredients in my refrigerator and freezer (a rather limited collection following Memorial Day weekend away). Give it a try with my veggies or mix in your own items!
1 head of cabbage (I had two halves of green and purple remaining hence my multi-colored masterpiece)
1 cup of quinoa, rinsed
2 cups of vegetable broth
1 1/2-2 cups worth of saute vegetables (I mixed chopped carrots, frozen corn, and chopped up smaller cabbage pieces)
1 garlic clove, minced
Olive oil (just a touch for sauteing)
Optional: tomato sauce to top the rolls (try out this homemade red sauce, minus the cauliflower)
Preheat the oven to 350.
Place a pot of water on the stove, filled about halfway, and heat to a boil. While heating the water, chop the stem off of your cabbage and carefully peel away the leaves of your cabbage with as little tearing as possible. Some of the leaves will have a thick stem-like vein near the bottom, so you may need to slightly trim them. When the water begins to boil, set the cabbage leaves (whole) into the water and cover, allowing to boil for 3-5 minutes until translucent.
Remove from heat and drain. If you’re a visual learner, check out this video for detailed cabbage leaf instructions at 0:56. To be honest, I sort of just did my thing and it turned out fine. But if you’re interested in exactness, the video may be helpful.
While cabbage leaves are boiling, cook the quinoa. Place 1 cup of quinoa in a pot with 2 cups of broth and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Let simmer for 15-20 minutes or until most of the liquid has been absorbed.
Meanwhile, dice up 1-2 cups of vegetables. In a saute pan, add about 2 teaspoons of oil and the minced garlic clove over medium heat. After a minute, add in the chopped vegetables and saute until thoroughly cooked and somewhat softened, about 8-10 minutes.
Check the quinoa and stir to see how much liquid remains. When it’s nearly finished cooking, stir in the sauteed vegetables and continue to cook over heat for another 2-3 minutes.
Use a small spoon to scoop about 1-2 tablespoons of quinoa and veggie filling into each leaf, pushing it to one side. Fold parallel edges as you begin rolling (careful to keep the parallel edges tucked) from the side with the filling. Essentially, you’re making lil’ cabbage burritos.
I set the finished burritos into a small baking dish with the loose end of the roll facing down (or simply toothpick the rolls in place) and topped with tomato sauce then baked at 350 for 10 minutes to set the ingredients!