In France, the changing of the seasons in nowhere more apparent than at the weekly outdoor market and even in the supermarkets. One of the things I love the most about our adopted country is the very fact that people cook or eat with the seasons. This means more opportunity for local producers to sell their goods, which is epically better for the environment. I must admit, cabbage is not a staple in our house. Sadly, I'm the only one who eats it. BUT, recently while visiting my mother, her cousin brought a couple of homegrown cabbages from her garden and, well, I saw a carpe diem moment like none other. I'm happy to say, not only was my dish cousin and cousin's husband approved (I made two dishes, one for us and one for them), but also mother-approved! I'll tell you right now there IS some measure of cheating involved. Let's head to the kitchen, I'll show you how!
Ingredients and preparation Stuffed Cabbage
For 8 - 10 people (I cook leftovers or prep a next batch for the freezer)
- 1 white cabbage, whole or halved (halved is easier) with leaves carefully pulled apart - you can also cut out the thick fibrous part but don't have to
- 500 gr ground beef (minced beef, as lean as possible)
- 1 bag of rice, cooked (I almost always use Basmati but regular long-grain or whole-wheat works too)
- 1 medium onion finely chopped
- 1 green paprika (bell pepper) finely chopped
- 1 egg beaten well
- 1/2 bundle of fresh parsley, finely chopped and added to the well beaten egg
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 2 tsp paprika powder
- 4 TBSP tomato purée
- 1 - 2 tsp black pepper
- 1 - 1.5 tsp salt (or to taste)
- Epic cheat: store-bought or jarred spaghetti sauce with or without meat. It can also be homemade; or a marinara sauce.
- Boiling salted water
- Grated cheese to taste - I prefer an aged Gruyère in my kitchen but it can be something else as long as it's not too overpowering so you can still taste the veg through the cheese. It can be Comte or something else.
Step 1: the cabbage
- Bring salted water to a boil
- Blanch the cabbage leaves for several minutes until pliable
- You can drop them in ice water if you wish (I didn't)
- Note - you can do the entire cabbage but it's a lot! It's just up to you how much you want to do - this dish freezes well, so you can certainly do a whole cabbage, however
- Set aside
Step 2: the stuffing
- The beef:
- add garlic powder, paprika, salt, pepper, and tomato paste and mix together well
- Add beaten egg and chopped parsley and mix well
- Sautée the finely chopped onion and bell pepper together in a skillet (can use oil or butter for this as you wish)
- When transluscent, and depending on how much of the cabbage you're planning on using, add half-to-all of the bag of cooked rice; and half-to-all of the beef.
- Either will work out just fine, if you use half you'll have more veg but that's the only difference.
- I try to strike a balance but will not overload it with so much rice that you can't see or taste the beef.
- It's very forgiving though so don't be afraid to just eyeball it.
- Continue to sautée until the beef is cooked through.
- Set aside.
Step 3: The assembly
- Cover the bottom of an oven dish with spaghetti sauce or marinara sauce
- Once by one, stuff the blanched cabbage leaves and fold them into little packages
- Lay them in the oven dish with the fold down
- Pack the packages in tightly
- When the oven dish is full, cover with a layer of spaghetti sauce (or marinara sauce whichever you chose)
- Finish with grated cheese
- Bake at 160C (320F) for 1 to 1.5 hours.
Step 3: Serve
- Serve with mashed potatoes or pasta tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper (and garlic powder)
- Serve with a lovely red or white Bordeaux
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