CSA Post: Vegan Cabbage rolls

Hello all, welcome to the 2015 CSA season in Laura’s cooking blog world. I’m quite late to the game here since I’ve been preoccupied with the drudgery of everyday work routine, hibernating from the heat and occasionally writing in my “society” blog. It’s been awhile since  I’ve been able to feel the tingling sensation of culinary inspiration in my bones but I’m finally ready for a comeback.

Last week we received a beautiful bounty in our CSA from Herbivor Farm, including kale, cucumbers, broccoli, zucchini and their unique cousins from outer space, the patty pan squash, scallions, sugar snap peas and of course, the man of the hour: Cabbage!

I dreamed up the obvious usage of this wonderful cruciferous vegetable: Cabbage rolls, or traditionally known in Poland as Golabki, galumki, halupki , galoopi and hippopotamus in several other  Eastern European countries and variations. There’s so many different variations and names on the internet that I can’t keep track of them all. I may have made a couple of those names up, but it’s really quite hard to tell.

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Laura’s vegan cabbage rolls: A simple name for a weeknight classic

None of that traditional name and recipe business matters because we’re going as far away from tradition as you can imagine in this vegan version. Us vegetarians are usually forced to reinvent recipes from meat-heavy cuisines in order to survive. And our versions are usually a lot healthier so you’re in very good hands. So, if you’re looking for a recipe that’s similar to your grandma’s, you’ll have to look elsewhere.

So, begin by washing the cabbage, removing some of the nasty looking leaves on it (if any) and removing the core at the bottom. Then fill a huge pot of water, add the cabbage and bring the water to a boil on medium- high heat.

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Turn the cabbage every 2-3 minutes and slowly remove the cooked leaves that appear cooked and easy to fall off. Place each leaf on a plate for later. This whole process should take about 10-15 minutes for you to have enough leaves cooked to use.

When you’re finished cooking the cabbage, slice it in half and roughly chop and dice up some of the leftovers to add to the sauce. Any remaining cabbage can be put away in the fridge and used for coleslaw or braised cabbage to accompany another meal.

Chop up some onion and garlic, and saute in oil until tender.

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Now it’s time to make the mixture. By now, you should have your lentils cooked (about 1 1/2 cup) and long grain wild rice ready to go. I forgot to mention this before, whoops! I used a teeny tiny bit of inspiration from my mom’s Americanized ground beef, rice and tomato sauce-based recipe that she used when I was growing up. I of course swapped the beef for brown lentils and used long grain wild rice.

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As you can see, I also added some extra chopped cabbage to the mixture. For the spices, I went all across the board: Some paprika of course, chili powder, oregano, salt and pepper and red pepper flakes.  Then I added  the cooked onion and garlic. I later stirred in a bit of the sauce to this mixture once it was done cooking to even things out.

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For the sauce, add a can of tomato sauce and simmer on low-medium heat. Add 1-2 tablespoons of tomato paste and stir in the chopped cabbage. Add salt and pepper, paprika, chili powder and dash of white vinegar. At this point I still wasn’t satisfied with the flavour and added a squeeze of dijon mustard and…drum roll.. just a pinch of adobo sauce. Gasp! Oh, the blasphemy! But I tasted it and it was perfect!  The goddess of culinary creation had to spoken to me. In a way, this method was actually more traditional because I didn’t meticulously measure and add the spices to the sauce, but instead added and tasted it as I went along. No written recipe involved. This is something that mothers and grandmothers from the old country do.

So now that the sauce is finished, you can get down to business and begin the assembly of the rolls. Or, you could have already started it by now, who am I to boss you around? It’s your kitchen. Firstly, trim the ribby vein of the cabbage leaves with a knife so they’re easier to roll.

You can also preheat your oven to 400 degrees. I figured I’d mention this before I forget and it’s too late. It wouldn’t be fun if you discovered an hour later that your oven hadn’t been on the whole time.

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Spoon 1/4-1/3 a cup of the filling in a leaf and roll up, folding the base of it up and over the filling until it’s covered. Make sure to fold the sides in so the goods don’t escape. Place each cabbage roll seam side down, side by side in a casserole dish.

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Spread the sauce over the rolls, cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45-50 minutes. Voila! Enjoy my friends.

Ingredients

1/2 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic

1 Head Cabbage

1 1/2 cup Brown Lentils

1 Cup long grain wild rice

1 Can tomato sauce

1-2 tbsp tomato paste

1/2 tbsp white vinegar

paprika, to taste

chili powder, to taste

oregano, to taste

red pepper flakes, to taste

salt and pepper, to taste

1 tsp dijon mustard, or to taste

Adobo sauce, a pinch to taste

That’s not bad for a girl of French Canadian descent who grew up seeing her grandma ‘s and great-grandma’s  handwritten recipes for Tourtiere (meat pie) on faded recipe cards in her mother’s recipe cabinet. We don’t specialize in cabbage rolls and pierogies in our family but we love to experiment and try new things and that means riffing on old favourites. That’s our tradition.

Happy cooking!

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Red Cabbage and Apple Slaw

So here is that follow-up recipe to  the braised cabbage that I promised 2 weeks ago. I’ve been craving summery food lately like veggie burgers and slaws this past week due to the rare nice weather we’ve been having.

So grab that other half of the cabbage, slice it into wedges and 1 1/2 inch chunks. Peel and grate two carrots.  Chop and dice an apple or two of your choice and add it to the veggies. Set your veggies aside on a plate.

Now, get your dressing ready. Combine the vinegar and oil. Then whisk in the mayonnaise and pepper. Throw the cabbage, carrot and apple mixture into a bowl and toss in the dressing, stir to coat.

Ingredients

1/2 head red cabbage

1/2 cup Apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup Extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup Light Mayonnaise

2 Carrots, peeled and grated

1 or 2 Apples, diced

Kosher salt and ground pepper to taste

Optional Ingredients ( I omitted due to my Limited Sugar diet): 2 tbsp Sugar and 1 cup Raisins.

Also: Celery seed, which I didn’t have.

You can of course omit the mayo, which a lot of people do, to make this vegan. I usually make it without it but I decided to experiment with it to see how it would taste. Either way works just fine.

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Ooooh, isn’t it so purdy? I should have taken some step by step photos for this one, but of course I forgot.

See how easy it is to make yourself? You don’t need to buy any of that bagged, pre-made stuff.

This slaw is perfect for a cookout with grilled portobello mushroom burgers, any variety of veggie burgers you like, or tofu and veggie skewers. Delicious. I can almost smell the barbecue and I’m hungry again.

Enjoy!

 

Vegan braised Red Cabbage

I’ve been in love with red cabbage lately, and have been in the habit of picking up a head of this anti-oxidant rich vegetable every other week and using it up for side dishes, slaws and in salads.

My favourite way is braised cabbage. The aspect of it that has always bugged me is that almost every recipe I’ve found for braised cabbage involves bacon, lard or some kind of animal fat. I just find that totally unnecessary. Braising involves cooking with some kind of liquid, of course, but the options are endless.

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Most people use vinegar: Apple cider, balsamic, white, with extra virgin olive oil  or butter and sugar. Others use broth or apple juice, or a combination of both. As you can see in the cast of characters above, I chose Apple cider vinegar, olive oil and orange juice to substitute for the apple juice I didn’t have on hand. I also mixed things up with dashes of kosher salt and fennel seed.

I only used half  a head of cabbage and used the other half for apple and cabbage slaw (Recipe coming shortly after the break). If I used the whole head for this, it would be way too much for two people to eat. Sure, I love cabbage but I don’t want to drown in it for weeks.

Ingredients

* 1/2 1 red Cabbage, chopped into irregular chunks

*2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive oil

*3/4 cup Apple cider vinegar

*1 tart Apple, peeled and diced.

* 1/4 cup Apple or Orange juice

* Kosher salt to taste

*1/4 tsp Fennel seed

 

So here we go, grab that cabbage, remove the outer leaves and slice it in half.  Remove the cores, and cut into quarters. Chop those quarters into irregular chunks a la Jamie Oliver. You can go the traditional shredding route, but I find this way much more fun and it gives it more texture.

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Place a pan over medium heat and add the oil and the fennel seeds.  Add the cabbage, and pour in the apple cider vinegar. Stir it around and let it cook for a minute or two. Add the juice and stir.

After a few more minutes of cooking, add the chopped apple and salt.  Cover and let simmer for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until it gets that delicious, tart and not-so vinegary taste.

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This side dish pairs well with stuffed peppers (recipe coming soon!) quinoa casseroles, veggie burgers or a sweet potato topped with black beans and cheese. Yum! Mark and I are having the latter tonight, smothered with leftover black bean soup alongside this gorgeous cabbage concoction! He doesn’t know it yet, but he’ll like it anyway. He always does.

If you ever come across a low-maintanence dude, snag him right away and you won’t regret it.

Happy eating!