October 28, 2012
Stuffed cabbage (kale)
Page 95, Ottolenghi
Stuffed cabbage was not a part of my growing up, but for B it was a dreaded meal. The filling (hamburger and rice) for the cabbage rolls of her childhood was the same as the filling for stuffed peppers and several other dinners – and was not a hit. So when I told her that I was making stuffed cabbage rolls for dinner, she was less than thrilled, despite the fact that Ottolenghi has not let us down yet. Luckily the filling for these rolls is a complete departure from those cabbage days of yore.
Our garden is still bursting with kale, so I substituted that for the cabbage in this recipe to lovely and delicious effect. Kale is the easiest and most nutritious vegetable to grow – and actually gets better as the fall goes on. It cann easily be used in place of cabbage or spinach in most recipes. We have two different varieties in the garden this year – curly kale which is a regular sized and fairly mild kale (which has grown into a forest of green this year!) and siberian kale which has enormous leaves and is super cold resistant. In order to have leaves large enough to use as wrappers for the rolls, I went with siberian kale for this dish. It really does have HUGE leaves. Once I blanched them in boiling water (by simply running them through the pot of water for a few seconds), I was able to cut the tough stems out and make fabulous kale rolls!
The rice/vermicelli/ricotta/herb filling was so tasty that B and I were eating it straight from the mixing bowl. It would have been a fabulous meal all on it’s own, but wrapped in the kale and baked in a sauce of white wine and broth, it was transformed and delicious beyond belief. This is *definitely* a recipe that will be getting repeated use in this house!
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1.5 oz vermicelli noodles (not the rice kind)
scant 1 cup basmati rice
1 1/4 cups water
1 medium white cabbage or Savoy cabbage ( or 8 large kale leaves)
3/4 cup ricotta
1/4 cup Parmesan, grated
3 tbsp chopped mint
4 tbsp chopped parsley, plus extra for serving
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup dry white wine
6 Tbsp vegetable stock
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp olive oil
salt and black pepper
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Break the vermicelli by hand into small pieces and add them to the butter, stirring for 1 or 2 minutes, careful not to let them burn. When the noodles start turning golden add the rice and give it a good stir. Then add the water and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to a minimum, cover and cook for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes before removing the lid and letting cool.
While the rice is cooking, cut the cabbage vertically in half. Peel off the leaves and blanch in boiling water for 6-8 minutes, or until semi-soft. (You can do this in batches, depending on the size of your pot.) Refresh the leaves under cold running water, drain, and pat dry.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Add the ricotta, half the Parmesan, the herbs, garlic, salt and pepper, to the cooked rice. Mix well with a fork. Use the cooked cabbage leaves to make parcels of whatever size you’d like, filling each one with a generous amount of the rice filling.
Arrange the stuffed cabbage leaves in an ovenproof dish (use cabbage trimming to fill in any gaps). Whisk together the wine, stock, sugar, olive oil and plenty of salt and pepper. Pour this over the cabbage and put the dish in the oven, baking for about 40 minutes or until almost all the liquid is evaporated. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan, return to oven and bake for another 10 minutes, so the cheese melts and turns golden. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.