Huh? NOT stuffed cabbage?
I would like to say that it is this week’s inclement weather which is inspiring me to make this wonderful comfort food, except I love comfort foods anytime anywhere, in all seasons. Cabbage, tomatoes, rice, meat (or even no meat for a fantastic vegetarian stuffed cabbage variation)? I’m there! Un-stuffed cabbage is very liberating, as it is so easy and just as delicious than stuffed cabbage. Don’t get me wrong, I love stuffed cabbage and the rolls are so pretty. But chances are, when you realize that not stuffed cabbage is every bit as delicious as stuffed cabbage, you might mike it more often, as I do!
I trust you can find recipes for stuffed cabbage anywhere.
What I would like to share here is a recipe for a dish that was earnestly meant as stuffed cabbage I made in my early bridal days, when I attempted to duplicate some of my mother-in-law’s wonderful Eastern European dishes, in a great desire to reassure her that her son will get his usual native dinner treats with his Moroccan-born wife. My rolls all came undone, cabbage leaves hanging on for dear life above the meat layer.
I was mortified, but my unflappable mother-in-law lifted the pot’s lid, took a couple whiffs, steering the steam toward her with an expert hand, and said, “This is going to be delicious, I can tell: Who cares how it looks, as long as it has taam (cute little word for ‘flavor’)?”
Serendipity had upstaged skill once and for all: I just continued to make my stuffed cabbage the lazy way:
Good-bye stuffed cabbage rolls!
Just as long as I am not serving funky-looking un-stuffed cabbage as my main dish to my guests, and I have more presentable dishes to offer at the same meal, I think I’m doing all right.
So here comes: Sort of like Sloppy Joes with a healthy twist. Perfect choice for buffets. Leftovers freeze very well.
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 large onion, quartered
- 4 ribs celery, peeled
- 2 Granny Smith (green) apples, unpeeled, quartered
- 1 large bunch dill, fronds and stems
- 3 pounds lean ground beef or turkey (ground lamb will work perfectly too)
- 1 medium head white cabbage, center cores discarded, sliced very thin (food processor)
- 1 cup golden or dark raisins
- 1 1/2 cups short grain brown rice
- 6 cups canned crushed tomatoes
- 6 cups unsweetened cranberry or pomegranate juice
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 4–5 bay leaves, or 1 teaspoon ground
- Salt (go easy on the salt, as the meat is salty) and pepper to taste
Heat the oil in a wide-bottom pot.
In a food processor, coarsely grind the onion, celery, apples, and dill. Add the ground mixture to the pot, and sauté until translucent. Add the meat and sauté a few more minutes, stirring and breaking it up, until no longer pink. Add all remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce the flame to medium low and cook covered for 1½ hours, stirring occasionally to avoid scorching, or a little longer, until the cabbage and the rice are very tender and the liquid in the pot is nice and thick. Transfer to a platter and serve hot. Makes a dozen ample servings.