These sweet-and-sour bundles are presented in the Eastern European style, except that barley replaces the usual filling of meat, notes food writer Darra Goldstein about her recipe for Stuffed Cabbage Leaves.
Her book "The Winter Vegetarian: A Warm and Versatile Bounty" (HarperPerennial, $16) draws on the cooking traditions of some of the worlds colder climates, including the mountains of Italy, Norway and Russia and the high plains of Turkey.
The cabbage must cook for a couple of hours to develop the best flavor, she says. The stuffed leaves taste even better after reheating, she adds.
Stuffed Cabbage Leaves
- 1 small head of white cabbage (about 2 pounds)
- 2 large onions, peeled and chopped
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup raw barley
- 1 cup water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large carrot, peeled and grated
- 1/4 cup minced parsley
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 28-ounce can tomatoes, drained and chopped
- 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Core the cabbage and blanch it in a pot of boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the pot and gently peel off the outer leaves. If the inner leaves are still too stiff to be removed, return the cabbage to the boiling water for another minute or so. Continue in this fashion until all the leaves have been removed. Use the small inner leaves or any damaged ones to line the bottom and sides of a 3-quart saucepan. Reserve the blanching liquid.
Next, prepare the onions. Place the onions and olive oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan and pour over just enough of the reserved water from the cabbage pot to cover them. Bring to a boil and simmer slowly, uncovered, for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the water has evaporated and the onions are golden. Stir occasionally.
While the onions are simmering, prepare the filling. In a small pan bring the barley and water to a boil and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes until the water has been absorbed. (The grains will still be firm.) Place the barley in a large mixing bowl and stir in the salt, pepper, grated carrot, parsley, garlic and egg. Blend well.
Starting with the largest leaves, take a cabbage leaf and place a mound of the filling along the center. Tuck up the bottom edge of the leaf first, then roll and tuck until the filling is completely enclosed in the leaf. Continue until all the filling has been used. There will be about 12 rolls.
Place half of the rolls in the cabbage-lined pot in a single layer. Cover with half of the prepared onions, then top with the remaining cabbage rolls and the rest of the onions.
In a medium saucepan bring the tomatoes to a boil with the lemon juice, sugar and salt. Pour over the cabbage rolls, cover the pan and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Makes about 12 rolls, serving 4 to 6.
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