Mother Earth Living

Everyday Cleansing Recipes: Cabbage Rolls

Harness the cleansing power of cabbage with this recipe for cabbage rolls.
By Debbie Whittaker
March 2000
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Serves 6 to 8 (14 to 18, 3-1/2-inch rolls)

Don’t let the rich flavors of this dish fool you; it’s loaded with cleansing constituents. Cabbage is recommended by renowned French naturalist Maurice Messegue for spring cleansing; it enhances digestion and elimination, as well as clears the respira­tory tract and cleanses the liver.

Savoy cabbage, whose leaves are open over its head, has considerably more ­­beta-carotene and requires less cooking than the more common form of green cabbage. Chinese Napa and bok choy are not the same family as head cabbage but have more nutrients. Any of these cabbages can be used in this dish, but they ­require less cooking time than typical American green cabbage. Lemon zest is a potent liver cleanser, and thyme is a potent antioxidant.

• 1 small head of cabbage, preferably savoy, deeply cored
• 1 medium onion, diced
• 2 teaspoons canola oil
• 1 cup barley
• 1 bouillon cube
• 8 to10 thyme sprigs, rinsed, cut into 2-inch pieces, and tied into a bunch with clean white thread (about 1 tablespoon fresh leaves or 1 teaspoon dried leaves)
• 6 dried shiitake mushrooms
• 4 dehydrated tomato halves
• Zest of 1 organic lemon
• 6 grinds of black pepper, or more to taste
• 2 cups prepared marinara sauce

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Fill a large nonreactive pan with enough cold fresh water to cover the cabbage and bring to a boil. (See “Tips” below for cooking suggestions.) Drop in the whole head; reduce heat to medium-low and cook uncovered until the outer leaves are cooked through and pliable. Remove the cabbage and place it in a large stainless steel or glass bowl to cool. Boil the cabbage broth down to about 4 cups.

2. In a 2- or 3-quart saucepan, sauté the onion in the oil over low-medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the barley, 31/2 cups of hot cabbage broth, and the bouillon cube, and stir until the cube is dissolved. Place the thyme, mushrooms, and tomatoes on top of the barley; cover and simmer. Do not stir. After 10 minutes, remove the mushrooms and tomatoes and place them in the cabbage bowl to cool. (They should be soft and thoroughly rehydrated.) Cover the barley and continue to cook for 45 additional minutes.

3. Separate at least 14 whole leaves from the head of the cabbage. Remove the stems from the mushrooms and discard. Dice the mushrooms and tomatoes. Stir them into the cooking barley about 5 minutes before the barley is done. If necessary, remove the cover and raise the heat to evaporate any excess moisture. Remove the barley from the heat and the thyme from the barley. Stir in the lemon zest and pepper.

4. Spread half of the tomato sauce on the bottom of a 9-¥12-inch glass baking dish. Lay out a cabbage leaf flat. Put a heaping tablespoon of barley filling on the top edge, fold in the sides, and roll. Set it seam side down into the baking dish. Repeat until rolls fill the dish. Spread the rest of the sauce over the top. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.

5. Serving suggestion: Serve the rolls warm alongside or on a bedding of Flushing Spring Salad. Garnish with a large dollop of non-fat yogurt mixed with parsley and garlic (see “Quick toppings”).

Tips: Place the cabbage into the pot first to measure the amount of water you will need, then remove it until the water boils. Choose a snug-fitting pot, if possible. The idea is to use as little water as possible, so you will have concentrated broth to use for the barley. Reserve the remaining cabbage for another meal. It is excellent with sautéed onions or in stir-fries with ginger, garlic, sesame seeds, and other typical Asian ingredients.


Debbie Whittaker, a frequent contributor to Herbs for Health, demonstrates her healthy cooking style as the “Herb Gourmet” in ­Denver, Colorado.

Click here for the original article, Everyday Cleansing Recipes.


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