Cabbage Fest

I’ve kind of been having a cabbage fest this past week. With between 30 and 40 heads in my garden, most of which go into the making of sauerkraut, I have the occasion in indulge myself with fresh cabbage, just like every other year about this time.

And I don’t mind overindulging, either, since cabbage is full of vitamins A, B and C, as well as iron, calcium and enzymes and is high in beta-carotene and fiber.

My first foray into cabbage nirvana was some plain, old coleslaw, which I had at lunch a couple of days in a row last week. And just last night, I steamed some cabbage, then braised it in butter and olive oil with a little onion. I then mixed it with some mashed potatoes. For those of you who’ve never done this, it’s a real treat.

Now, I’m going to stuff some cabbage leaves with a meat and rice mixture and bake them in the oven, covered with some tomato sauce, using the following recipe. (If you have any more suggestions on how to use cabbage, drop me a note.) 

Stuffed Cabbage Leaves
8 cabbage leaves
2 quarts water
½ teaspoon salt
1 pound lean ground meat (beef, bison or venison)
1 egg
½ cup cooked rice
1 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 slices bacon, cut into half slices
1 cup tomato puree
¼ water for diluting puree, if desired
Prepare rice ahead of time by cooking ½ cup regular rice in 1 cup water with about 1/8 teaspoon salt. Once rice has cooked, set ½ cup aside for this recipe and reserve any extra for another time.
Bring to boil 2 quarts water and ½ teaspoon salt. This will be used to blanche the cabbage leaves.
While water is coming to a boil, cut a circle around core of cabbage to loosen leaves.
Drop 8 cabbage leaves into boiling water for 2 minutes. Remove with tongs and lay flat on a paper towel to absorb excess moisture. Cut a small "V" from the root end of the cabbage leaf. (You want to remove the hard spine at the base of the leaf.) Set aside prepped leaves.
Saute onion in butter in a small saute pan over medium-high heat.
After onion has sauteed, mix in a medium-sized bowl: onion, uncooked beef, raw egg, cooked rice, salt and pepper.
On a cutting board or other cleared surface, stuff leaves by filling each with a heaping spoonful of meat mixture. Fold sides of leaves to cover meat mixture, then fold top and bottom of leaf to further cover the mixture. Place stuffed cabbage leaf seam side down in a baking dish.
Place a half piece of bacon over each stuffed leaf. Pour tomato puree mixed with about ¼ cup of water over stuffed leaves. (Add water to create the consistency of puree that you prefer.)
Cover loosely with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 481 calories, 33.8 grams protein, 15.2 grams carbohydrates, 31.5 grams fat (12.7 grams saturated), 176.4 milligrams cholesterol, 616.4 milligrams sodium, 2.2 grams dietary fiber, 5.1 grams sugar.