Wednesday, March 23, 2011

My first attempt at Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

When I was on my winter break from grad school last year I made a list of recipes I wanted to try to cook - Stuffed Cabbage Rolls was on that list. Sadly, I never made it that far down the list though and so, here I am today, finally able to say that I have made stuffed cabbage rolls! I'm not even sure I made them in the traditional manner - but my version came out quite tasty, if I may say so myself. You could easily make these with a ground pork or ground meat instead, but I liked the ground chicken.

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
1 TB olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 tsp chicken bouillon
1 cup rice, cooked
1/2 cup mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 tsp garlic
Napa Cabbage leaves
1/2 lb. ground chicken
1 tsp dried parsely
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp salt and couple grinds of fresh pepper
1 egg
3 TB ricotta cheese
1 1/4 cup homemade tomato sauce
2 TB parmesan cheese

1. Cook the rice according to package directions. I only cooked 2 servings (1/2 cup dry rice) and added the 1/2 tsp chicken bouillon to the rice in the first step when the water is boiling. It adds a little more flavor to the rice, and in turn, the filling!
2. In a small nonstick pan over medium heat, add your olive oil and the chopped onion. Cook for about 5 minutes until onion seems a bit translucent. Then add the roughly chopped mushrooms and garlic, continue to cook for a couple minutes but don't worry about cooking the mushrooms completely through because this will become a part of the filling for the cabbage rolls, and will continue cooking in the oven.
3. While the rice is cooking and the onion mixture is being sauteed, you can get a large pot of water boiling for the cabbage leaves. Once the water is boiling you can add individual cabbage leaves, a few at a time. They'll cook very fast so you only need to boil them for one minute. Take the leaves out - lay them out to dry and cool on a kitchen towel. Then continue with the next batch of cabbage leaves. Start with the outer layers because they're the biggest leaves. I only used 7 leaves, but I did have filling leftover, so you could easily fill 10-12 leaves.
4. In a large mixing bowl add the ground chicken, the sauteed onion mixture, 1 tsp dried parsley, 1/2 tsp dried oregano, 1/4 tsp salt, a couple grinds of fresh pepper, 1 egg and 3 TB of ricotta cheese. Mix together until everything is well combined. If you'd prefer you can just add the egg white (without the yolk).
5. Once your rice is done cooking you can let is cool for a bit, then you'll add 1 cup of the rice to the turkey mixture. Mix together well and your filling is ready! Get your baking dish ready by spooning a layer of tomato sauce on the bottom.
6. Next we start the filling and rolling process! It's a bit like rolling a small burrito. Lay the cabbage leaves out, with the white base closest to you. Add 3-4 TB of filling to the center of the cabbage leaves.
7. First you'll roll the bottom up over the filling.
8. Then, take the left and right sides and fold up over that. Roll the whole stuffed roll away from you so that the seam is now on the bottom (or bring that last top section up over the top).
9. Place each roll, seam side down, in your baking dish (which already has the layer of tomato sauce on the bottom). Continue the rolling process until your leaves and/or filling is gone! If you need to use two separate baking dishes that's definitely okay.
10. Pour the tomato sauce over your rolls so that they're all covered! And hopefully you're using your own homemade tomato sauce, which I showed you how to make just a couple weeks ago! At this point in the process you could put the baking dishes in the fridge with plastic wrap covering it if you're preparing the dish ahead of time. I made these cabbage rolls last night and then when I got home from work tonight all I had to do was put them right in the oven!
11. Sprinkle the parmesan cheese over the top just before you're ready to bake. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. If you have made the rolls ahead of time, be sure to take the dishes out of the oven a good 20-30 minutes before you're ready to put them in the oven so that they're not going right into the oven so cold.
12. Bake the cabbage rolls at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Turn up the oven to 375 degrees and bake for 15 minutes more. Take out of the oven and serve hot! Because there's rice right in the filling I didn't make another starch and just served my stuffed cabbage rolls with sauteed zucchini.
This could be a nice addition to a pot luck dinner or family get together. They're pretty light, easy to make ahead of time, and easy to take a small portion of. I will also admit that because I had lots of filling leftover I made my extra filling into turkey burgers! Surprisingly, that also worked well! It almost seemed like a veggie burger because of the rice and vegetables mixed in, but still had the chicken flavor too! Never throw ingredients away - just be creative about how to use them up!

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