So you’ve listened to me and followed my advice and now you have produced the pot of kasha that ate Atlanta. I warned you it makes a ton! The good news is it freezes very well. The great news is it makes the most amazing filling for stuffed cabbage.

Pretty little cabbage bundles waiting for tomato sauce
Pretty little cabbage bundles waiting for tomato sauce

This wonderful recipe is from Martha Stewart (with a few Anah twists, of course!) and it’s definitely one I’ll be making over and over again. The recipe calls for using brown rice (which is always a perk in my book!). One commenter noted that they’d made it with white rice and that brown rice was better. That got me thinking of the leftover kasha with caramelized onions and fresh dill sitting in my freezer.

Cabbage removal process: (top) boiling water; (middle) mixing bowl for removing outer leaves; (bottom) liberated cabbage leaves!
Cabbage removal process: (top) boiling water; (middle) mixing bowl for removing outer leaves; (bottom) liberated cabbage leaves!

The trickiest part is pulling the cabbage leaves off the head, but don’t let this scare you. It was actually a lot easier than I thought it would be. The key is to assembly line it. Colander. Mixing bowl. Pot of boiling water. Tongs. Knife. Make sure you don’t fill the pot too full. Remember you’ll be dropping a big head of cabbage into boiling hot water! To make sure that doesn’t happen, place the cabbage in the cold pot and fill it up with water (with the cabbage inside). Then just remove the head and bring the water to a boil. Voile. Once the water comes up to a boil, carefully drop in the cabbage head. Allow to boil for a couple of minutes. You might have to turn the head so that it cooks evenly. Remember the end near the stem is thicker, so make sure that side is submerged for longer. After a few minutes, remove the head with a pair of tongs. Place stem side up in your mixing bowl. Use a knife to cut the leaf from the cabbage core. The leaf should come off easily and should feel pliable. If it doesn’t, return the head to the boiling water. After removing the leaves, place them in the colander. Return the head to the boiling water for another 2 minutes until the next layer of leaves is just tender enough to remove. Repeat until you have 12 large leaves.

While it sounds kind of complicated, it’s pretty straight-forward and went a lot faster than I anticipated! In fact, the whole recipe took me only 45 minutes to make. However, I did take a few shortcuts. First, I already had leftover kasha that just needed defrosting. Secondly, I had an open jar of marinara sauce I needed to finish. I would have preferred to have the full 3 cups of tomato sauce, but I wasn’t bothered enough to make extra.

The buckwheat and fresh dill flavor gave these stuffed cabbage rolls a wonderful Eastern European flavor, especially when served with a dollop of sour cream (well, 0% fat Greek yogurt in my case!). It’s comforting, yet light.

Stuffed cabbage with beef, pork, and kasha
Stuffed cabbage with beef, pork, and kasha

Abrazos! Anah.

Stuffed Cabbage with Beef, Pork, and Kasha in a Spicy Tomato Sauce

(adapted from Martha Stewart)

 

Ingredients

For The Stuffed Cabbage

Coarse salt

1 medium head Savoy cabbage [I used regular cabbage because that’s what looked fresher]

12 ounces ground chuck (90 percent lean) [I used .63 lbs because I forgot how to ask for ¾ lb in Spanish! This is what I ended up with after 5 minutes of “mas, no menos, no mas”. Tres cuarto, for future reference]

12 ounces ground pork [ditto with the pork]

2 1/2 cups prepared kasha [the original recipe calls for 2 cups brown rice]

1/2 medium onion, finely chopped

1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 tablespoon Hungarian paprika

1 tablespoon kosher salt [use less if using already-seasoned buckwheat kasha] 

For The Tomato Sauce (Makes 3 Cups) [or use your favorite tomato sauce]

1 can (28 ounces) whole peeled plum tomatoes, with juice

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 medium onion, finely chopped (1 cup)

2 garlic cloves, minced

½ teaspoon red-pepper flakes

1 bay leaf

Coarse salt

 

Preparation

Make the tomato sauce: Crush the tomatoes with your hands. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, bay leafe, and red-pepper flakes. Cook, stirring constantly, until onion is tender, about 6 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes and juice. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thick, about 20 minutes. Season with salt. Let cool.

Make the stuffed cabbage: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add cabbage head, and cook until outer leaves are just tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon. Peel outer layer of leaves, and drain. Return remaining cabbage to water, and repeat until all leaves are cooked and removed. Pat each leaf dry with a kitchen towel. Select 12 large light-green leaves. Reserve remaining leaves for another use.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Using 2 forks, gently stir together beef, pork, rice (or kasha), onion, parsley, paprika, and 1 tablespoon salt.

Working with 1 leaf at a time, trim thick part of rib with a paring knife, leaving leaf intact. Arrange about 1/2 cup filling (less for smaller leaves) in center of each leaf. Fold stem end of cabbage over filling. Fold in sides of cabbage. Carefully roll cabbage over to form a package, overlapping ends to seal. Transfer each, seam side down, to a large, shallow baking dish.

Spread sauce over stuffed cabbage leaves. Cover with foil, and bake until cooked through and cabbage is tender, about 1 hour.

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