Serves 4 to 6
This is Rosalind Creasy’s favorite version of stuffed cabbage, a popular dish in much of northern Europe. Rosalind lives in Los Altos, California, where she tends her herb garden and writes books. The stuffed cabbage freezes well.
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 large onion, chopped
• 1 small red bell pepper, finely chopped
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 cups cooked basmati rice
• 3/4 pound Italian sausage, hot or mild
• 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 3 teaspoons dried oregano, divided
• 1/4 teaspoon celery seeds
• 1/2 cup raisins
• 1/2 cup shelled pistachios
• 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
• 1 cup dry white wine
• 3 cups tomato sauce
• 2 cups chicken stock
• 1 bay leaf
• 1 large green cabbage
1. Pour the oil into a large skillet, add the onion and pepper, and sauté over medium heat for 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute longer. Transfer the onion mixture to a large bowl and fold in the rice.
2. Remove the casings from the sausage. In a medium skillet, break up the sausage meat and lightly brown it over medium heat. Add the browned sausage, allspice, cinnamon, 2 teaspoons oregano, celery seeds, raisins, pistachios, and parsley to the rice mixture. Mix thoroughly and set aside.
3. Pour the wine into the sausage pan and cook for 2 minutes, scraping up any browned bits with a spatula. Add the tomato sauce, chicken stock, remaining oregano, and bay leaf. Simmer, uncovered, over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes, or until the mixture thickens to the consistency of tomato sauce. Set aside.
4. In a large stockpot, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. With a sharp knife, core the cabbage to help it cook faster and make the cooked leaves come off more readily. Place the cabbage in the water and simmer, turning the cabbage once, for 5 minutes, or until the outside leaves start to darken and loosen. As outer leaves become loose and pliable, remove them and drain on paper towels. When you reach inside leaves that are too small for stuffing, chop them finely and add them to the filling mixture.
5. Preheat the oven to 350°F. To stuff the cabbage leaves, place one on a clean surface, concave side up and stem end facing you. Place about 2 tablespoons of filling in the leaf (use less filling in the smaller leaves). Fold the bottom of the leaf over the filling, fold the sides toward the middle, then shape a roll by folding the remaining flap over. Place the roll, folded side down, in a 9-by-12-inch baking dish. Fill the remaining leaves. Pack the baking dish tightly with cabbage rolls. Add any leftover filling to the sauce, then pour the sauce over the rolls. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes, or until the rolls toward the center of the dish are hot and the top has started to brown slightly. Add more chicken stock if the rolls look dry.
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