Savoy cabbage bundles of joy.
I was late getting to my farmer's market the other day, and the vegetable bins had been picked over pretty thoroughly, with some stringy parsnips and pockmarked kale about all that was left.
But there were several lovely Savoy cabbages, one of which trotted home with me in my market bag. When it came time to dispose of it in a humane way, I remembered a photo I'd seen in one of my cookbooks of gorgeous cabbage bundles, with the translucent green Savoy leaves stretched around their filling, cuddled in a tomato sauce.
By the time I'd found the photo (in Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Suppers Cookbook) I'd already set my heart on a cornbread filling, not the burger-type filling she'd used. Plus I didn't have any kitchen twine.
So, striking out on my own, I blanched and stuffed the leaves with a cornbread dressing, made herby with some of the sage growing on the window sill. Then I popped those babies in the oven, where my broken oven light prevented any visual contact until I pulled them out, 45 minutes later.
"Mon petites choux!" I exclaimed, seeing the charming cabbage bundles nestled in their sauce. They were just what I had in mind.
Note: Those of you avoiding anything the least bit meat-like may enjoy them as a Thanksgiving main-dish.
Here's how to go about it:
Cornbread and Pinenut Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
1 head Savoy cabbage
1 loaf of your favorite cornbread
1 tablespoon non-hydrogenated margarine
2 stalks celery, diced
1 onion, diced
½ cup pine nuts
1 clove garlic, minced
8-10 leaves fresh sage, minced
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning (or use small amounts of thyme, rosemary and marjaram)
dash of black pepper
1 cup fake chicken stock, or less
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion chopped
1 15-ounce can tomato puree
dash of allspice
1 tablespoon sherry
½ cup water
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Gently remove the largest leaves from the cabbage, and blanch in boiling water 5-7 minutes. (The outer green leaves may take longer, the tender inner leaves less time.) Remove from water and drain.
Crumble the cornbread. (A food processor makes short work of this task.) Set aside.
In a sauté pan, melt the margarine and sauté the onion and celery for five minutes over medium heat. Move the vegetables to the side and add the pine nuts, letting them toast in the middle of the pan 2 - 3 minutes. Add garlic, sage, and seasonings. Stir well, and lower heat. Add crumbled cornbread to the mixture; mix thoroughly.
Add enough fake chicken stock to create a moist filling. Start with ½ cup, and add more as needed. Turn off the heat and set the pan aside.
Make the sauce: Sauté the chopped onion in a sauce pan in the olive oil. Add tomato puree, allspice, sherry and ½ cup water. Simmer over low heat until needed.
Spray a casserole dish (large enough to hold 10-12 stuffed leaves) with cooking spray. Add a ½ cup or so of the tomato sauce to the bottom of the dish.
Stuff the leaves: Mound ½ cup or so of the filling in the center of each leaf. Press the filling against the leaves tightly. Roll the sides in, then roll from the back of the leaf (stem end) to the front. Use a toothpick to hold the roll together, if necessary, at least until the casserole dish is packed tight. You may be able to remove the toothpicks after the rolls are smashed inside a casserole dish.
Smother the cabbage bundles with the remaining tomato sauce.
Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes.
Makes 10-12 rolls.
Note on ingredients: Savoy cabbage is the round crinkly leafed cabbage that looks almost too pretty to eat. Fake chicken stock is available in powder form from most health food stores, also in ready-mixed containers. Alternatively, use vegetable broth.