My Hungry Harvest box this week contained a gigantic, healthy head of cabbage. I couldn’t bear the idea of shredding it, so I decided to try making cabbage rolls. In my ongoing quest to avoid carbs, the giant cabbage leaves made a perfect wrapper for one of my favorite quinoa fillings. The recipe below looks labor-intensive (and it it is!), but it’s also easily modifiable to make a quick weekday dinner. I’d consider the recipe below more of a technique than a hard-and-fast recipe. You can use your favorite tomato sauce instead of making the one below. You can also stuff the cabbage rolls with leftovers!
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
6 cups whole peeled tomatoes, finely chopped
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp paprika
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp salt
1. Heat the oil and crushed red pepper in a medium pot on med-high heat. Once it becomes hot and starts to become fragrant (~2 minutes), add the remaining ingredients and stir.
2. Turn the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. It will become a thick, chunky sauce.
Ingredients- Stuffed cabbage
1 large head of cabbage
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
10 oz extra firm tofu, cut into small cubes or crumbled (your preference)
1 cup quinoa
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1.5 cups water
5 scallion greens, thinly sliced
1 bell pepper, finely chopped
6 oz spinach, finely chopped
Directions- Stuffed cabbage
1. Prepare the cabbage leaves- Gently peel off the big cabbage leaves (I got about 20 from my cabbage). Try your best to keep them intact since these are what you will use to roll up the stuffing. Rinse these under water to remove the dirt. Bring a very large pot of water to a boil. Add the cabbage leaves and boil for 3-4 minutes, until they become a little transparent and soft. This step is important- if you skip this step the cabbage leaves may break when you try to roll them.
2. Make the stuffing- Heat the olive oil on med-high heat. When hot, add the onions and fry for 3-5 minutes, until the onions become soft and light brown. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the tofu and a pinch of salt. Saute until light brown. Add the quinoa, tomato paste, salt, pepper, and water. Mix well. Cover and cook for 10-12 minutes (until the quinoa has rings).
3. Remove the pot from the heat. Mix in the scallions, bell peppers, and spinach. The residual heat should wilt the greens.
4. Roll the cabbage- Take one leaf and place it on the counter with the stem towards you and curled up. Place 2-3 tbsp of stuffing in the bottom third of the leaf. Roll the stem over the filling and tuck it under. Fold the right side of the leaf over the middle (this keeps the stuffing from falling out of the side). Fold the left side of the leaf over the middle. These two sides may not overlap, and that’s okay. Continue to roll the leaf up all the way up until you have a log. Place the log seam side down on a plate. Continue this process for all the leaves you have.
1. Place a thin layer of the sauce on the bottom of a heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven.
2. Layer the cabbage rolls, seam side down, on the sauce. Depending on the size of your pot, you will end up with 1 or 2 layers of cabbage rolls.
3. If you have 1 layer, spoon the rest of the sauce on top. If you have 2 layers, then spoon half of the remaining sauce on top of the first layer. Then, place the second layer of cabbage rolls on top. Top with the remaining sauce.
4. Bring to a simmer over low heat. Cover and let simmer for ~1 hour. Check periodically to see if the bottom is drying out- if so, add a tiny bit of water.
5. Serve hot with optional toppings such as grated cheese, basil, cilantro, sour cream, lime, etc. You can also serve it on top of spaghetti or angel hair pasta (as pictured).