Last night Man-thing unexpectedly caught a fever (in the space of half an hour!) so he’s now in bed, suffering and going through the typical hot/cold flashes and other unpleasant symptoms. The problem with such situations is what one can eat, because everything tastes foul or makes you feel rather nauseous. So this morning I quickly decided to bake some yeast-free rye bread to toast, and, in the spirit of not wasting energy, quickly trundled up these gorgeous baked cabbage rolls which I’ve been meaning to make for a while now. The filling isn’t as glamorous as I’d wanted, but when you’re under pressure time-wise anything will do. Plus, admittedly, the filling is bladdy tasty after all, so worries on that account! Cabbage rolls is one of those things I would have refused to eat a few years ago because a) where’s the cheese? and b) seriously? Lately, however, I’ve been spying it on the archives of many of my favourite food bloggers, and it truly sounds delicious now that my palate is more adventurous and balks at animal produce. So, win-win!
I actually prepared my cabbage yesterday by unrobing four big leaves off of a beautiful big monster. I’d bought a bushel (is it a bushel? A bunch? A bouquet?) of fresh spinach in my efforts to be less lazy and take the time to buy as much non-packaged produce as possible, so I spent twenty minutes just spacing out and washing, drying and packing the spinach away. Luckily cabbage is chop chop – quite literally into the food processor in batches and then in the fridge or freezer for later use in a soup. We don’t have much sun by us but my pig-headed brain is scheming ways to set up a tiny herb and tomato garden as testers to see if it could possibly work to grow our own produce. Nothing better than seeing something grow and then eating it all up (not like Cronus, however – that was bad :p). If my five year old sister can grow a tomato then I better be able to do the same, surely!
Ingredients (serves 4, with possible leftover filling):
- 100g dry soy mince (made according to package instructions) OR 1.5 cups soy mince, prepared
- 3/4 cup small diced carrots
- 1 cup diced pumpkin
- 1/2 cup quinoa, cooked
- 2 cups chopped tomatoes
- 4 cabbage leaves, steamed with ribs sliced down
- herbs and spices
- Optional: soy sauce, cashews
- Prepare your mince, adding the carrots, pumpkin and spices to the pot and let it simmer. Add the quinoa at the end, with any other optional ingredients you’d like. I see lots of people enjoy rice and other more starchy additions – no problemo.
- In a microwave steamer (or on the stove) steam your cabbage leaves for a minute and then transfer to a plate to let them cool. Once slightly cooled take a sharp knife, turn the cabbage bulgy side up, and carefully slice down the big protruding rib so that it is thinner (easier to fold). OR just have a look at Vegan Yack Attack Jackie’s pictures as featured on Vegan Miam. 🙂
- Preheat the oven to 180C and get out a dish that can hold your rolls – I underestimated their size so I ended up using 2 medium sized Pyrex bowls when I could’ve whipped out my casserole dish.
- In a small bowl mix your chopped tomatoes with your herbs of choice and some spices (e.g. paprika, cayenne), as well as any liquids such as soy sauce or tikka cooking sauce. Pour half onto the bottom of your casserole or baking dish.
- Lay out your cabbage roll and place a few tablespoons (depending on size of cabbage) at the bottom end of the leaf near the big rib. Again, maybe you should look at the pretty pictures over at Craving Greens or Susan at Fatfree Vegan (seriously, my descriptive skills are pants). I didn’t use a toothpick to keep them steady- just tucked in the top of my cabbage leaf into the fold. Voila!
- Place the cabbage rolls (aren’t they pretty??) folded side down into the tomato mixture and then pour the rest of the sauce on top. I guess one could also do a gravy of sorts!
- Bake for 30 minutes or until you are satisfied that it is delicious. Ovens will vary!
I made these at 07h30 this morning, so after just getting back from the doctor I made some thin rye toast slices for Man-thing with the filling of the rolls and had one cabbage roll myself, because I seriously could not wait til lunch time to try it out. On a more evil note, when we asked the doctor what Man-thing could eat, he said soup (big grin), and when I innocently asked about soy mince the doctor practically fell over himself to say YES and that it is an awesome thing to eat (even bigger grin). So all my plans have fallen together quite nicely. Now, under doctor’s orders, Man-thing will simply have to eat a baked soy mince cabbage roll for lunch
The great thing about this concept is that one can use almost any filling – lentils, sweet potato mash, mushrooms, eggplant, green bean puree, beetroot…endless choices! And of course one doesn’t really need a starch at all, though I’ve also seen some that involve oats. Can I even say “weird” anymore, when almost everything I thought obscene even five years ago is now tasty and mouth-watering beyond belief? I’m happy to eat my words…and more baked cabbage rolls! *waits impatiently for lunch*
On a side note, I seriously suggest reading up on the cabbage rolls linked above, especially that of Jackie and Susan’s versions – beautiful photos that plunged me head-first into this project! Their pictures, and that of others round the web, have impressed upon me the value of process photos – it’s one of those things on my photography to-do list; taking step-by-step photos. So the above is at least an attempt to start to get into the habit. Many of the photos I see are often more artistic and beautiful than the final shots, and tell a wonderful story in themselves, which is what I like when doing my daily reading. Oftentimes one really has to sit back and ask what it is that speaks to us in books, art or in conversation, and with so many styles and points of view in the different food blogs, it’s really amazing to feel like you’re able to zoom into someone’s home, life and kitchen and peer over their shoulder. It really suits my introvert voyeur personality ;P