Here we are in the heart of fall; this time of year I always crave comfort food and what is more comforting then a warm meal that comes out of the oven? Mmmmm.... Cabbage Rolls. The epitomy of Ukrainian comfort food.
Often I find that people use too much ground meat and make them very large. So I went about an experiment. I made two different kinds of Cabbage Rolls, 1 that was made of ground meat and the other that was made of sauteed mushrooms. The both have the same ingredients other then the meat/ mushroom can you tell which is which:
They look very similar and oddly enough they didn't taste all that different either. I suggest mixing them up in a casserole dish if you are trying to cut down on red meat. I had to make both because of my meat eating partner. I enjoy meat too, but often opt to not partake and am always looking for ways to reduce meat with out having to substitute with a freaky soy product. These were both really good, even my meat eating partner had a hard time figuring out which was which! Here is the recipe:
1 large heat of cabbage
1/4 lb ground beef (the small package) or 1 lb mushrooms finely chopped and sauteed
1 carrot finely chopped
2 stalks of celery finely chopped
2 onions finely chopped
6 cloves of garlic
3 cups of cooked rice (whatever floats your boat)
medium pinch of rosemary
large pinch of salt & pep
1 jumbo or 2 - 3 regular cans of whole tomatoes
First pop a whole head of cabbage into a huge pot of boiling water. Martha says not to use an aluminum pot... I think that my pot is aluminum and they worked, but it could be something else. Feel free to take the risk if you must. Other people remove each leaf first and then boiled them separately. I just threw the whole thing in, accidentally forgot about it and them took it out. It was cooked through and the outer leaves weren't very pretty but the rest was great. Let it cool and then remove each leaf and set aside.
Then begin making rice. Just follow the package directions. Then move on to chopping the mushrooms (actually I ran them through a food pro until they were fairly finely chopped - you do need a little texture) and begin sauteing them with some Olive Oil and pepper (leave the salt out). In the meantime finely chop the celery, carrots, garlic and onions, again I used the food pro, if you choose to do this make sure that you do it in small batches, or else you will get a puree and you want more like pieces that are the size of rice grains, or a little bigger. Divide the chopped veggies into two bowls. Make sure the mushrooms are sauteed to the point that they have given up most of the water, then add them to one bowl and add the beef to another. Add one egg to each bowl and 1 cup of rice, mix it in and then decide if you want to add more rice. I went for it, but you might not want to and in the end you will be eating it so go ahead and do what you must!
This is how each looks, bad light I know but you get the idea!
Now you will want to empty your cans of tomatoes into a juice jug or bowl and whiz with a hand blender. I added a small handful of salt pepper, and a little less rosemary. Whiz until it is a smooth sauce.
Now assemble! Pour a little sauce into a casserole dish, take one cabbage leaf. If it is a big leaf, remove the bottom v shape of the stem, just the hard part so you end up with a small v out of your leaf. You can leave it in but it is trickier to roll. Just do whatever works for you. Add some filling to one side of the leaf and roll it up. Add to the dish and repeat until you are done. Top with a bit more of the sauce, cover with foil and bake in a 350 degree oven for an hour.
I serve mine with sour cream. Yum!!