Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Ottolenghi Cabbage Rolls

Cabbage rolls have been on my radar to cook again and blog about for a couple of reasons. The first being that they were really nice when I first made them and also because Yotam seems to becoming increasing popular on the blogosphere.

I observed my mother-in-law making cabbage rolls containing meat some time ago which I had never tried in my life. She gave me the idea that I may be able to find a vegetarian version and after searching on the net, I was thrilled to find Yotam's cabbage rolls as there were a few of his recipes that I had already tried successfully.

The original recipe uses ricotta as part of the filling so the natural substitution for this was tofu, nutritional yeast and lemon juice. It is a rather time consuming dish to put together, however once the cabbage rolls are prepared there is an hour of free time to prepare a side dish or two.

It probably wasn't the best decision to serve these with couscous as there are enough grains contained within the cabbage rolls. There was half a packet of pearl couscous in the pantry which I love and had been wanting to use for some time so this became our side dish. It was made up of 2 cloves of garlic, diced carrots and red capsicum, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon harissa, 1 tablespoon lemon juice and a cup of vegetable stock. When the couscous was cooked, I added half a tin of lentils and a tablespoon of coriander. This resulted in a tasty, mildly spiced side dish.

The cabbage rolls turned out beautifully again, however I think they would be even nicer with double the amount of tofu, nutritional yeast and lemon juice and the rice reduced to 1/3 - 1/2 cup. This is what I'll be trying next time...

Cabbage Rolls (Adapted from a Yotam Ottolenghi recipe via The Guardian)

1 tablespoon Nuttelex or other dairy-free margarine
45g vermicelli (recipe states not to use the rice variety but that's all I had!)
3/4 cup basmati rice
1 1/4 cups water
Salt and black pepper
1 medium white cabbage
40g pine nuts, toasted, chopped
125g firm tofu, crumbled
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 x 700ml jar passata
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/4 - 1/2 cup water, to rinse the passata jar
1 tablespoon sugar
Extra parsley, chopped

Melt the margarine in a small saucepan over medium heat. Break the noodles into rough 2cm lengths and add to the pan, stirring continuously. When the noodles start turning golden, stir in the rice, water and half a teaspoon of salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to its lowest setting, cover and cook for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat, allow to sit for 10 minutes, then remove the lid to let it cool down a bit.

While the rice is cooking, remove 12 leaves from the cabbage. Blanch the leaves in boiling water for about 5 minutes, until semi-soft (I do this in batches). Rinse under cold water, drain, pat dry and set aside.

Heat the oven to 180C. Add the pine nuts, tofu, nutritional yeast, mint, parsely and garlic to the rice, season to taste and stir with a fork. Make a parcel with each cabbage leaf, filling it with a generous amount of the rice mix and rolling it up so that the filling is totally enclosed.

Arrange the cabbage parcels close together in a baking dish. Mix the passata, white wine vinegar, water, sugar and some seasoning, pour this over the parcels, and sprinkle with parsley. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the sauce is thoroughly bubbling. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for five minutes before serving sprinkled with extra parsley.

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