Stuffed Cabbage Redux

stuffed_cabbage_33This week’s Golden Earthworm’s CSA box included a very large and beautiful green cabbage.  So what to do with this healthy leafy green now that it’s in season?  Stuffed cabbage!  For the stuffing, I decided to go in a fresh vegetarian direction and used lentils and Israeli couscous (trusty pantry staples they are).  They work very well together since they’re roughly the same size/shape, and the grain/legume combo packs a protein punch.   For flavor, I added Kalamata olives (I love that briney goodness), and to fill it out, a carrot, since that’s what I had on hand, but you could use celery, or most any vegetable.

Once the cabbage was stuffed, it was braised in chopped tomatoes, and topped with anchovies.  This dish was so good I predict it will stand the test of time… in 40 years maybe this will be what grandmas will be serving at family dinners!

Lentil and Israeli couscous stuffed cabbage

  • 1 large head of green cabbage, cored
  • 2 onions, 1 chopped and other sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1/2 cup small, French lentils
  • 1/2 cup Israeli couscous
  • 1 handful of chopped pitted olives (I used Kalamata)
  • 1-1.5 cups canned chopped tomatoes (with juices)
  • 6-8 anchovy fillets (optional, without them, the recipe is vegan and delicious)
  • 2 cups of vegetable stock or water
  • Olive oil, salt, pepper

1. Preheat oven to 315F

2. Prepare the filling: In a large skillet over medium high heat, sauté the onion, garlic and carrot in olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Once the vegetables have softened and taken on some color (5-10 minutes), add the lentils and couscous, and stir for about 1 minute.  Add the stock and olives and bring to a boil.   Turn the heat down to low, and cover.  Cook until the liquid is absorbed and the lentils and couscous are softened.  (Don’t worry if they are still a little hard, since they will continue to cook in the oven.)

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3. Prepare the cabbage: First core the cabbage by cutting around the stem end with a medium-sized knife. Next, gently separate the leaves, working from the core end, until you have about 10 nice large leaves, don’t worry if they rip a little.   Prepare a large saucepan fitted with a steamer basket, and place the leaves in, cupped side down (see pic below).   Steam the leaves until they soften up, about 1 minute.  Remove the last bit of the core on the leaves, and set aside.

Cored CabbageSeparated LeavesIn The Steamer

4. Stuff the leaves: Place a cabbage leaf on a flat surface, and spoon about 3 T filling in the bottom/middle third. To roll, start by folding in the sides, then roll from the bottom up.  Place rolled leaves in a small baking dish, on top of sliced onions, seam side down.   Continue until all the filling is used up.

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5. Bake: Pour the tomatoes over the rolled cabbage and lay anchovies on top (optional, but highly recommended).  Bake, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes.

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Mushroom and Polenta Squares

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I love polenta.   It is one of the quicker cooking whole grains (done in under 20 minutes), and it is extremely versatile.  It can be cooked into a layered casserole, made smooth and creamy, or it can be baked and cut into squares, which is what I did tonight.

I made this dish with kale, and shitake and maitake (hen of the woods) mushrooms.  Mushrooms go so well with polenta, and they also boost immunity which makes them a great choice for this time of the year.

Mushroom and Polenta Squares

  • 1 cup coarse ground cornmeal
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms (I used shitake and maitake)
  • 1 cup kale, washed and chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (or other dry, aged cheese)
  • 2-3 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Salt, freshly ground pepper, olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Once boiling, add the cornmeal, whisking every few minutes. Add corn, thyme, and salt and pepper. Turn heat to low and continue to cook for about 10-15 minutes. If the polenta becomes too stiff, add a little more water. (You might have to add up to a cup more water–add 1/4 cup at a time.)
  3. Meanwhile, heat a large saute pan over medium heat. When hot, add olive oil and garlic. Cook for a few minutes until garlic is golden. Add mushrooms and a little salt, and continue to cook for about 4-6 minutes; the mushrooms should be giving off some liquid.
  4. Add kale and about 2 tablespoons of water to the mushrooms, then cover the pot for about a minute, until the kale softens up.
  5. Add the mushrooms and kale to the polenta. Be sure to add all the liquid from the mushrooms. Mix the cheese into the polenta, and spread the mixture into a Pyrex dish.
  6. Bake for 10-15 minutes. The dish can be eaten right away, or cooled completely (and refrigerated), cut into squares, and served at room temperature.

Invest a little time, make a lot of dough

multigrainMaking bread and pizza at home is all about planning. Once you’ve got the timing right, it requires very little active work.  I hadn’t made bread at home in over a month since we had been out of town, and well ya know,  summer… but when I saw artisanal multigrain loaves in the store selling for close to $5, I had a sudden burst of inspiration (funny how that works huh?).

Sunday is our day to prep our week’s food, and my contribution was one loaf of multigrain whole wheat bread, and dough for two large pizza pies to be eaten at a later date.  Sounds like a lot of work, but all this took roughly 15 minutes of actual work and about two and a half hours of listening for timers to ring and making decisions.   The only semi-technical part is feeling for when the dough is right, but the following two recipes should give you dough that is easy to handle and elastic, not wet and tacky .

Sunday Morning: Soaked the (Multi)Grains

When I woke up, I started soaking some grains that would be added to both the bread and pizza dough.  Uncooked grains add wonderful texture to bread, but they need to soak for a while, so it’s important to get that started early.  The grains I used were a small handful each of:

  • Millet
  • Oats
  • Flaxseed Meal
  • Coarse Cornmeal

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I put those in a small bowl and added enough water to go about an inch over the grains, then I covered the bowl with a plate.    Ideally you want to soak the grains overnight, but I forgot.  We went out for about five hours, and when I got home and started on the dough the millet was still a little on the crunchy side but I used  it anyway and I ended up really liking the extra texture.

Sunday Late Afternoon: Started the Multigrain Whole Wheat Loaf

  • 6 ounces white flour (about 1.5 cups)ingredients
  • 10 ounces whole wheat flour (about 2 cups)
  • 1.5 cups grain mixture (see above)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp active yeast
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4-1 1/2 cups of water

In a food processor fitted with the blade attachment (a la Bittman), add all the dry ingredients and mix for about 30 seconds.  Add the grain mixture and the olive oil, and with the food processor running, start pouring in the waterBecause there is a lot of water in the grains, the amount of water you need to add will vary, so add it slowly until a dough ball forms and starts moving around in the chamber.  I added about 3/4 cup

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Turn the dough out on a floured surface and knead for just a few seconds.  Form it into a bowl, and let it rise in an oiled bowl covered with plastic wrap until it doubles (1-2 hours).  Our kitchen was HOT, so after about 45 minutes it had risen plenty.

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Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface again and let it sit covered with plastic wrap for about 20 minutes.

Dusting with flour as needed, shape the dough into a flat rectangle the width of your loaf pan.   Roll up the dough and place it in the oiled pan seam side down.  Dust with flour and cover with plastic wrap and let it double again (1-2 hours).  (This is a great time to put about 5-7 minutes of work into making the pizza dough.  See below.)

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If you want seeded bread: scramble an egg and brush it on the top of the loaf, sprinkle on the seed mixture of your choice (try sesame seeds or rolled oats).

Slash with a sharp knife or lame, and put it in the center rack of your oven.  After about 20 minutes rotate the pan for even cooking.  It should cook for about 40 minutes or until it has a nice golden brown crust that gives a good thud when knocked with the back of a chef’s knife.  Remove from pan and cool on a cooling rack.

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We’ve been having this as toast for breakfast, I made an egg and cheese with it this morning, and it was also a great accompaniment to Tuesday’s ratatouille (see previous post).  Not bad considering the ingredients used cost about $0.40.

Sunday After the Bread Was Shaped: Made The Multigrain Whole Wheat Pizza Dough (enough for 2 large pies)

Equipment note: Pizza does require some special equipment, most importantly a pizza stone, followed closely by a pizza peel (the huge wooden pizza spatula that is oh so fun to use) and finally a pizza slicer (also fun).  I strongly suggest you invest in at least the stone and peel, especially if you’re interested in making artisanal bread (not in a loaf pan) as the hot preheated stone is what gives you a super crust, and you can’t really get that without it.   You can find this equipment and more on our amazon store (CLICK HERE), and yes, your purchases do help us keep our site running, so thank you.

  • 10 ounces of white flour
  • 12 ounces of whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup soaked uncooked grains (see above)
  • 3 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-1 1/2 cups water

Follow the exact same procedure as for the sandwich loaf above.  After the dough has risen the first time, split it into as many pies as you’d like to make, and either start flattening them out into a pie, or do what I did and wrap each dough ball with plastic wrap, put it in a freezer bag, and throw it in the freezer until you’re ready to use it.  The morning that you’ll be making the pizza, just take the dough out of the freezer and put it in the fridge.

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Wednesday after work: Made a Delicious Pizza

Making the actual pizza is a snap:  Preheat the oven to 500 F with the pizza stone in the center of the oven.  On a cornmeal (or flour) dusted pizza peel, pat, roll or toss the dough until you’ve worked it into a pie as thick or as thin as you’d like.  Add your toppings, and slide it onto a pizza stone that has been heating in a 500 degree oven.  Cook for about 10 minutes, or until the crust is just browning.  Let it rest for a couple of minutes before slicing.

We turned one of the frozen dough balls into a fantastic pizza with leftover tomato sauce from the ratatouille, slow roasted red onions, Bulgarian feta and anchovies, drizzled with a balsamic reduction.  It was super supper.

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Polenta with Summer Squash and Semi-Poached Egg

Inspired by a wonderful mid-summer dinner at ici in Ft. Green, Brooklyn, and the contents of this week’s CSA box, I decided to make a polenta/summer squash dish. Polenta is a quick-cooking and versatile pantry staple. Polenta works great as a base for fish or veggies, and in this case I topped it with a quick saute of zucchini and yellow squash (in homage to The Red Cat’s pecorino/almond/zucchini dish).

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Polenta with Summer Squash and Semi-Poached Egg

  • 1 cup polenta (coarse ground corn meal)
  • 1 cup whole milk (you might need a little more)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated hard aged cheese (parmesan, pecorino, asiago, etc)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 zucchini (or yellow squash, or combination)
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  1. Polenta: Heat the milk and water together in a medium sized saucepan. Just when the milk/water begins to boil, whisk in the polenta and turn down the heat to low. Stir every few minutes and cook for 15-20 minutes. If it gets too thick, add more milk or water as you prefer; the polenta should be thick, but not crunchy. When the polenta has cooked, add cheese and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Squash: Shred zucchini and squash in a Cuisinart or on a box-grater. Heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat and saute garlic for 30 seconds until golden. Add shredded zucchini/squash, season with salt and pepper and cook for 2-3 minutes while tossing to coat.
  3. Egg: Heat 2 inches of water in a small pan. When the water boils, add the vinegar and salt and turn heat down to low, so that the water is just barely simmering. Crack an egg in small bowl and gently slide the egg into the water. Do the same with the other egg. Set a timer for 3 minutes. The egg is perfectly cooked when the white sets and the yolk is still runny*; cook longer for a harder yolk, or shorter if you like it mad runny. When done, remove from water with slotted spoon or spider, and drain on a clean kitchen towel.
  4. Serve: Layer polenta at the bottom of a shallow bowl, then add about 1/2 cup of the zucchini/squash, then top with egg. Season with salt and pepper.

*Mishap alert: While attempting to poach the above egg, I didn’t put enough water in the pot, and therefore the yolk didn’t glaze over like I would have liked. It came out more like a mix between a poached and sunny-side up egg. It still tasted delicious, though, and that’s all that matters.

For another polenta recipes check out this polenta casserole from Matthew.

Chanukah Latkes

We made many-a-latke this weekend in preparation for Chanukah. Latkes are very simple–the only thing to keep in mind is that since peeled potatoes oxidize (turn brown due to exposure to the air) after a few minutes, they should be kept in cold water after they are peeled and then grated a few at a time to make small batches of the latke mixture.

Ingredients:

  • Idaho potatoes, grated and drained
  • White onion, grated and drained
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Matzo meal
  • Eggs, beaten
  • High heat oil to fry (canola, grapeseed or sesame–not toasted sesame)

Each small batch was about 4 or 5 potatoes, a hand full of grated onions, 2 eggs, 1/4 – 1/2 cup matzo meal, and salt and pepper to taste.