Friday, 13 September 2013

Vegan Stuffed Cabbage

My Grandmother once had a Romanian caretaker who was an awful cook.   Every time we went to visit, she insisted on cooking for us, and, every time, we unwillingly put everything down that fake smile of ours.  But when we cooked -- oh, when we cooked proper Italian food, she wouldn't eat it and would make her own food.   My family also disliked her for many other reasons, but yes, that wasn't nice. 

One of her "specialties" was her stuffed cabbage.  I've had good stuffed cabbage, I had a Romanian neighbor who made me stuffed cabbage and they were delicious.  It's usually rice and minced meat used for the stuffing, that woman's was more like rice and just roughly chopped up lard -- they were revolting.

Anyway, since I'm again on one of my vegan phases (yes, it started out as a challenge but now I do it quite regularly), I've decided to attempt a vegan version of this.

This one is stuffed with rice and veggies and spices and sunflower seeds. Mmmm, it's so versatile.  

Serves 4
1 head of cabbage
1 onion, minced
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
1/2 cup rice
2 tbsp sunflower seeds
2 tbsp tahini
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground coriander seeds
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 garlic clove
500g passata.

Preheat the oven to 180C. 

Heat some oil in a pot.  Peel the clove of garlic, press on it so it cracks, and add it to the pot once the oil is hot.   Fry for a minute until fragrant, making sure that it doesn't burn, and add the passata and 1/2 cup of water.  Once it starts boiling, turn the heat down to low and cover.

Cook rice according to package instructions.

Remove the core from the cabbage.  Put the entire head of cabbage in boiling water for about 3 minutes.  When leaves are cool enough to handle, use a knife to cut away the thick center stem from each leaf, without cutting all the way through.

Heat some oil in a pan and add the carrot and onion.  Fry for about ten minutes before adding the mushrooms, sunflower seeds, spices and tahini.  Fry for about 10 more minutes.  Stir in the cooked rice. Season. 

Place about 2-3 tbsp of filling on each cabbage leaf. Roll away from you to encase the filling. Flip the right side of the leaf to the middle, then flip the left side. You will have something that looks like an envelope. Once again, roll away from you to create a neat little roll.  Repeat with the rest. 

Check the tomato sauce, season. 

Spread the bottom of a deep baking pan or dutch oven with a bit of the tomato sauce you just made.  Arrange the cabbage rolls on top, tightly packed together.  Pour over rest of tomato sauce.  Put in the oven for 20-30 minutes. 

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