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Local Limelight: Weeklyish Articles Of Interest

Edith's Stuffed Cabbage Recipe From The Earthbound Cook Book

Myra Goodman, Co-Founder of the largest organic producer in the world, Earthbound Farms, was interviewed by GreenPosting for her 2nd book, The Earthbound Cook: 250 Recipes for Delicious Food and A Healthy Planet.  You can read that interview, which talks about the book, agriculture, Earthbound Farms, and the Grateful Dead.  And, included is the recipe for the heirloom lettuce salad with strawberries, walnuts, and goat cheese.

When we spoke with Goodman about her book, one of her favorite parts of it is the inclusion of family recipes passed down from her mom, like the stuffed cabbage and hungarian goulash.  With the publishers approval, we're able to share Myra's mom for stuffed cabbage.  Included are helpful photos on how to roll them.

Edith’s Stuffed Cabbage Recipe

There is no dish I associate more with my mom than her stuffed cabbage. She always makes it in her largest stockpot and cooks a massive quantity so there is plenty for everyone in our family to take some home to eat for days. It was a big challenge to adjust this recipe to serve just six! Whenever she makes it, it feels like a special occasion. In fact, I didn’t learn how to make it myself until I wanted to immortalize it in this cookbook, because, frankly, I love it when she cooks it for me. That’s always been part of the magic of this dish. But now I realize it’s equally delicious and full of memories when I make it.

To make these cabbage rolls, ground beef is combined with uncooked rice and liberal amounts of onions, garlic, and spices, then rolled in cabbage leaves and simmered in a rich tomato sauce. Beef and white rice is the classic combination, but as my mom has gotten more health-conscious over the years, she has started to make this dish with ground turkey and brown rice instead of white. She actually prefers it this way now, and I really like it too. If you decide to make the brown rice version, add an extra ½ cup of water since brown rice will absorb a bit more liquid, and cook it for an extra 30 minutes (a minimum of 2 hours). One of the keys to keeping the stuffed cabbage intact is to roll the meat securely and arrange the rolls in a tight circle in the pot. You need a very large pot (at least 12 quarts) for this recipe in order to accommodate the sauce, much of which is absorbed by the rice during cooking. This dish reheats well in the microwave, and can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 3 days. 

Serves 6 (2 rolls per person)

*  3 large heads of green cabbage
*  1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
*  1 1/2 cups white rice
*  2 large yellow onions, grated (about 2 cups)
*  ²⁄³ cup olive oil
*  ¹⁄³ cup chopped garlic
*  2 tablespoons dried oregano
*  2 tablespoons dried basil
*  4 teaspoons salt
*  4 teaspoons sweet Hungarian paprika
*  1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
*  4 cups tomato juice
*  2 large cans (28 ounces each) tomato sauce
*  1/2 cup ketchup

1. Remove the cores from 2 of the cabbages, leaving the heads intact. Place one of the cored cabbages in a large microwave-safe bowl, and cover it with a kitchen towel. (If you do not have a microwave oven, see the Note on page 84.) Microwave the cabbage on high power until the leaves are pliable and can be detached easily, 6 to 10 minutes. Repeat with the second cabbage. Let the cabbages cool until they can be handled comfortably, at least 15 minutes.

2. Carefully remove the outer leaves of the cabbages, keeping them whole. As you move closer to the center of the heads, the leaves will become smaller. Set aside 12 of the largest leaves. Slice the remaining steamed leaves into 1-inch-wide pieces, and reserve. Core, then cut the remaining uncooked cabbage into 1-inch pieces and set aside. (The cabbage leaves can be prepared to this point up to a day ahead and refrigerated, covered.)

3. Place the ground beef, rice, onions, 1/3 cup of the olive oil, and half of the garlic in a large bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of the oregano, 1 tablespoon of the basil, 1½ teaspoons of the salt, 2 teaspoons of the sweet paprika, and ¼ teaspoon of the cayenne pepper. Using your hands, knead the mixture together until combined.

4. Place a 1-inch-deep layer of the cut cabbage in the bottom of a 12-quart stockpot, to form a bed for the rolls. Reserve the remaining cut cabbage.

5. With your hands, form about 1/3 cup of the meat mixture (this will vary, depending on the size of the cabbage leaves) into a log. Place the meat in the center of a reserved cabbage leaf. Fold the bottom of the leaf over the filling, and roll the leaf up tightly to create a tidy roll. Using your finger, poke the edges of the leaves into the center of the roll to create a fairly tight and secure roll. Place the roll, seam side down, along the outer edge of the stockpot. Stuff and roll the remaining cabbage leaves as described, placing the rolls along the outside edge of the pot and then filling in the middle area. The cabbage rolls should be tightly packed in a single layer. Reserve the leftover meat mixture.

6. Cover the rolls with a 2-inch layer of the remaining cut cabbage (you may have some left over). Add the remaining 1/3 cup olive oil, remaining garlic, and remaining 1 tablespoon oregano, 1 tablespoon basil, 2½ teaspoons salt, 2 teaspoons sweet paprika, ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, and the leftover meat mixture to the pot. Pour the tomato juice, tomato sauce, and ketchup into the pot. The liquid must cover the cabbage rolls by at least 3 inches; add water or more tomato juice if needed. Do not stir—just lightly swirl the ingredients together without disturbing the cabbage.

7. Cover and bring the mixture to the start of a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low to maintain a simmer and cook for at least 1½ hours. Check once or twice to make sure that the sauce is simmering, not boiling vigorously, and that there is enough liquid to cover the cabbage rolls.

8. Check one of the rolls to see if the rice is fully cooked. This recipe is very forgiving and it is better to cook the cabbage rolls for a few extra minutes rather than undercook them. If the cabbage isn’t soft and tender, cover the pot and continue cooking for another 15 minutes, or until the rice tastes fully cooked and the cabbage is soft.

9. Turn off the heat and let the cabbage rolls rest for 20 to 30 minutes.

10. Using tongs, carefully remove the cabbage rolls from the pot and transfer them to individual plates or a large platter. Spoon the sauce over the rolls, and serve hot.

Note: If you don’t have a microwave oven, bring a large covered pot of water to a boil. Place a rimmed baking sheet near the stove. Stick a long cooking fork into the core hole of one of the cabbages, and plunge the cabbage (carefully, so you don’t splash yourself) into the pot of rapidly boiling water. The outer leaves will begin to fall off. Leave them in the boiling water for a few minutes, until they’re limp and flexible enough for stuffing; then take them out one at a time, and place them on the baking sheet. Try not to tear the leaves. After you have removed the outermost 6 or 7 leaves, remove what is left of the cabbage head from the water and set it aside to cool. Repeat with the second head of cabbage. You will need 12 leaves that are soft and pliable enough to be rolled.

By: Jonathan Davis, Founder and Editor

Photos by: Alli Pura


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