Polish Cabbage Rolls
So, I know these look like little fat logs of cabbage, but they are one of the most comforting, delicious, wholesome and nourishing dishes on the planet! It's simple, "peasant"-fare (if I'm not offending anyone by calling them that) - that is surprisingly flavourful! They're slightly sweet, slightly vinegary, herby and very very savoury. The mushroom and rice filling is elevated 200-notches by the tomato sauce which these rolls are cooked in, as it seeps into each unit and carries the flavour to the finish-line of perfection! Please do find a deli that sells a jar of cabbage leaves, and cook these up for your loved ones. Family & friends will ask for them to be on the menu again in no time.
So yes, you can steam a cabbage and use it's leaves, but you end up with a lot of leftover cabbage that way, so I find using a jar not only saves the hassle and leftover cabbage conundrum, but also adds a welcome vinegary-twang to the sauce.
- 1550g jar cabbage leaves (or tinned) - they're usually soaking in a water/vinegar/salt liquid, which is what you want.
- 1 1/2 cup white rice (e.g. long grain, basmati)
- 1 stock cube (vegetable, "chicken" or "beef")
- olive oil
- vegan butter
- 2 onions, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped (or 1 tbsp minced)
- 12 medium-large button mushrooms, diced
- 2 tsp dried thyme
- 1 large handful fresh dill, chopped
- 1 large handful fresh mint, chopped
- 1 tbsp sweet paprika
- salt & pepper
- 700g jar passatta
- 1 cup stock (vegetable, "chicken" or "beef")
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp castor sugar (or sugar/liquid sweetener of your choice)
- vegan butter
- Start by cooking the rice for a few minutes less than the packet instructions suggest, however with the stock cube added to the cooking water. Once a few minutes off perfect, drain (or remove from the heat) and set aside to steam dry a tad.
- Grab a large fry-pan, pot or casserole dish and add a large glug of olive oil and a generous knob of butter. Once the butter is melted, add the onion, garlic and mushrooms. Sauté until the onion and mushrooms are soft, their juices have been released into the pan and have reduced in size (yet still are a little tender). Add the thyme, dill, mint and paprika and stir to coat. Take the pot off the heat, and add in the rice and stir everything together.
- Make the tomato sauce by mixing all the Tomato Sauce ingredients together.
- Pre-heat your oven to 180C.
- Assemble your cabbage rolls by carefully taking a cabbage leaf from your jar, rinse it off slightly to dull the vinegary flavour just a tad. Then lay on a tea-towel to pat-off the excess moisture and arrange the leaf so that the leaf's base (where the leaf was joined to the cabbage) is closest to you. Add about 1/3 cup of packed mixture (for an average-sized leaf, more of less depending on the size of the leaf - they're not all uniform after all) near the base of the leaf and then roll up tightly like you would a burrito. Place the roll in large deep-baking dish that has a smidge of the tomato sauce splashed on the bottom. Don't be afraid to pack them in tightly. Repeat to use up all the leaves and filling-mixture.
- Pour all the Tomato sauce over the rolls (yes, it seems like a lot), cover with foil and bake in the pre-heated oven for 50 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for a further 20 minutes to let the sauce thicken and give the rolls a chance to brown up slightly. Serve as they are, or you can top with parsley and vegan sour-cream (not essential though). Enjoy!