Meatless Cabbage Rolls
By Dennis Linden
This month’s featured dish comes from the Colorado kitchen of Bill Gerlach, Melissa’s R & D specialist. March’s madness includes Saint Patrick’s Day and a part of any menu on that hallowed day celebrating all things Irish must include cabbage. Bill’s delicious cabbage roll recipe swaps out the traditional corned beef stuffing for a lighter, healthier mix of some tasty veggies, red quinoa and the rich flavor of shiitake mushrooms. Each roll is slathered in a spicy tomato sauce that lingers on the palate with just the right amount of pleasurable heat that is best dampened with, what else, a pint of Guinness as fitting the occasion. Plus, this is a fun and quick recipe to make!
There are really just two parts to Bill’s prep: the stuffing and the cabbage leaves. The stuffing is a one-pan mix of the ingredients that are sautéed in layers that slowly melds the flavors into each other. The very tasty mixture is then wrapped into tight rolls using lightly boiled cabbage leaves, then baked. While Bill’s measurements will make eight large rolls, trust me, double it. These little packets will disappear off the platter quick; if there are leftovers, the rolls can be quickly warmed up for a delicious day-after lunch. Of course, the amount of that suggested side of Irish brew is also a chef’s choice.
I must admit to a bit of a learning curve in what initially appeared to be the simple task of separating the leaves from the head before boiling. Kitchen confession: I messed up and it took one whole head before getting it right on the second. The reader can save dollars and avoid waste by learning from my mistake of trying to cut each leaf away from the base core individually. While the slice worked fine, pulling the tightly bunched leaf away from the rest of the head proved difficult without tearing the surprisingly delicate single leaf. Instead, cut the entire core out of the head with a deep, slightly inward, circular incision; this emancipates all the leaves at once, loosening the bunch for easier separation. A true cabbage “duh” moment, in hindsight.
This is one of those dishes that looks like it took a lot longer to prepare than the reality of about 45 minutes including the baking time. Try to make each a very tight little packet, closed at both ends. I did save a little time by using some leftover quinoa from a larger batch cooked up the night before for another dish, knowing that I was also cooking for Bill’s stuffing. There is no difference in taste or texture between regular and red quinoa; chef’s choice based on eye appeal and the red looks great paired the bright green of the cooked cabbage. The fluffy texture and earthy flavor of this nutrient-packed, diabetic-friendly grain makes it one of this writer’s personal favorites.
Come to think of it, considering the fresh and healthy ingredient list, as well as this dish’s simple prep procedure, the recipe could be the starring attraction in the other two features that I write for this site – The Low Carb Kitchen and Cookin’ with the Kids. The rolls get a very low glycemic score and a child would have great fun making them!
Bill Gerlach has been a member of the Melissa’s staff for 15 years. His role focuses on many aspects of the company’s global resourcing that includes international procurement, grower relations, new product development, plus he reviews all product labeling in regards to government regulatory compliance. Working out of his home office near Boulder, Colorado, Bill takes full advantage of his scenic location. He is as an avid runner, hiker, skier and tall peaks mountain climber. He is married with a son in college and another 4-legged “son” named Brewer, a very active English springer spaniel. Hmm, wonder if that name means the dog can fetch his master a Guinness on command? Or, even better, brew one -- man’s best friend! Have a safe and happy St. Patty’s Day.
Vegetable Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
Serves: 4 servings (2 each)
1 large head Organic Green Cabbage
¾ cup Perfect Sweet Onions, diced
1 Tablespoon Garlic, minced
¾ cup Carrot, shredded
1 medium sized Zucchini, fine diced
1 medium Red Pepper, fine diced
1½ cups Fresh Shiitake Mushrooms (option: Melissa's Dried Shiitakes, reconstituted)
½ cup Pre-Cooked Red Quinoa (prepare 1 cup, then use leftovers for another recipe!)
1 Tablespoon Fresh Basil, fine chopped
1 Tablespoon Fresh Thyme, finely chopped
1 teaspoon Lemon Juice
Salt and Pepper, to taste
4 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese, shredded
2 teaspoon Lemon Juice
1 can (12 ounce) Fire Roasted Tomato Sauce
¼ teaspoon Red Savina Hot Sauce
In a large pan, sauté onions and garlic in olive oil until tender and translucent.
Add carrots, zucchini, red pepper and continue to sauté until tender.
Add mushrooms, sauté for one minute.
Mix in the quinoa, basil, thyme, lemon juice, Parmesan and salt and pepper, to taste.
Separate 8 large leaves from cabbage head and boil until slightly tender.
Lay out each leaf on a cutting board, remove the thick vein with a V-shaped cut, then spoon about 3 oz. of the filling across each leaf at the tip of the v-cut.
Fold in sides and roll to completely enclose filling.
Place cabbage rolls in a baking dish coated with cooking spray or vegetable oil, combine sauce ingredients and spoon over each roll, then top with Parmesan.
Cover and bake in a pre-heated oven at 400°F for 15 to 20 minute or until heated through. ENJOY!