11.8.09 Cabbage Dispatch

[gallery]I think of stuffed cabbage as a traditional winter dish. It's somehow very cozy. Though it's often stuffed with a combination of meat and rice, my version uses quinoa and chopped cabbage flavored with just a little chorizo. The rolls are cooked in a tomato-based sauce with an additional hit of smoky pimentón to offset its sweet-sour flavor.

Stuffed Cabbage with Quinoa & Chorizo

serves 6
  • — 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • — 1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • — 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • — 15 ounce can whole tomatoes, with juice
  • — 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • — 3 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
  • — 1/2 teaspoon spicy pimentón
  • — 1 teaspoon salt
  • — 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • — 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • — 1 large shallot, diced
  • — 1 head green cabbage, cored and left whole
  • — 3/4 pound dried chorizo sausage, cut into small chunks
  • — 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • — 2 teaspoons salt
  • — 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • vegetable stock, as needed

Fill a large stockpot with water, add 1 tablespoon salt and set to boil.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a Dutch oven over moderate heat. Sautee onion and garlic until golden. Add tomatoes and juice, vinegar, brown sugar and spices and simmer, uncovered, breaking up tomatoes into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon and stirring occasionally, 30 minutes.

While sauce simmers, immerse whole head of cabbage in pot of boiling water. As outer leaves become tender (but not too soft), use tongs to help remove them one at a time and lay them on a clean dishtowel.

When you have 12 whole leaves, turn water off and remove what remains of the head. Drain in a colander. Roughly chop remaining cabbage and add 1 cup to simmering sauce. Set another cup aside.

In a heavy skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat and sautee shallot and chorizo until lightly browned. Add reserved cup of chopped cabbage, salt and pepper and sautee until cabbage is wilted, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and mix in 2 cups cooked quinoa.

Cut away the rib from the center of a cabbage leaf, without cutting through the leaf. Spoon about 1/3 cup of the quinoa mixture onto the center of the leaf. Then fold the sides in and roll up, as you would a blintz. Place the bundle, seam side down, in the gently simmering sauce. Repeat with the remaining leaves, arranging rolls snugly against each other in one layer in the sauce. If the sauce does not cover the rolls at least halfway, stir in some vegetable stock. Cover and cook at a gentle simmer for about an hour.

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