Saturday, January 21, 2012

Vegetarian Wheat-Berry Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

I recently ordered wheat berries from my local online food co-op because I wanted to experiment with them. I am finding them a delight to work with and to eat. I have to plan ahead, though, because they require pre-soaking and then 50 minutes of boiling to cook.

I took two cups of wheat berries, pre-soaked them, and cooked them overnight on low in a slow cooker. They came out a little mushy but delicious. And I have enough wheat berries to freeze some and to cook a couple of meals this week.

But what to cook?

One answer came when I received a big, beautiful cabbage from my CSA. Here it is, stripped of a few of its outer leaves:

I decided to make stuffed cabbage rolls with the outer cabbage leaves, the wheat berries, some fresh radishes, and some other ingredients I had around the house. I had never made stuffed cabbage before, but it was a lot easier than I thought. I thought I'd share the recipe along with some pictures.

First, take some root vegetables and mince them very fine. I used a food-chopper to save time. Suggestions are a small onion, a carrot, two cloves of garlic, and two mild-tasting radishes. Then chop up some unsalted raw almonds, maybe 1/4 cup's worth. Also cut up some fresh dill and oregano with kitchen scissors.  Keep the almonds and fresh herbs separate from the other ingredients.

Next, Heat up some oil and cook up the root vegetables for a few minutes until the onions and carrots begin to soften. Remove from the heat and stir in two cups of wheat berries along with the almonds and herbs, and set aside. Here's a picture of what the filling looks like when done.

Heat up water in a steamer. Strip off the outer leaves of a large cabbage, wash them, and cut the tough stems at the back of the cabbage even with the rest of the leaf so the back of the leaf looks fairly flat and even. If the cabbage leaves are very large, cut them in half. Steam 4 cabbage leaves, or four halves, if they are large, in the steamer until the leaves turn bright green and soft-looking, about 3 minutes. Add more leaves and repeat until you have enough. I found 8 halves filled a 9x9 glass baking dish nicely. Here is a picture of the leaves when steamed.

While the leaves are steaming, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Take some bottled or canned low-sodium tomato sauce (8 oz.) and spread just enough to cover the bottom of a 9x9" baking pan. Take each leaf (or half) and put 2 tablespoons of the filling in the middle and roll up as shown.

Step 1:

Step 2:
Step 3:
Step 4:
Step 5, roll the mixture up (away from you) to make a roll. Here is what the finished roll looks like:

 Add the rolls, seam-side down, in the casserole dish:

Take the remaining tomato sauce and mix it with 2 tablespoons of salsa. We used a very spicy tomato salsa that I'd made from my own garden vegetables last summer. Newman's Own makes some nice salsas that are not overly high in sodium, however, if you need to purchase store-bought. Cover the cabbage rolls with the sauce/salsa mixture:

Bake this for 35 minutes or until bubbly and heated through. Let sit for two or three minutes before serving.

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