vegan stuffed cabbage: less drama, equal yum

by Heguiberto on March 28, 2011

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This recipe is a take on stuffed cabbage drama, the delectable Macedonian stuffed cabbage dish our friends Aleks & Christian taught us to make in 2009, right before their move back to New York. Of course, that was the original drama: their relocating back East. And the fact that there were five chefs in our tiny kitchen added to the excitement. We miss you guys!

vegan stuffed cabbage

vegan stuffed cabbage

In his recipe, Aleks used preserved whole leaf cabbage, which, for some reason, is not easy to come by here in California. Maybe we’re too far from Eastern European? They gave us a whole jar as a going-way gift when they moved. The brand is Zergüt. They are purveyors of Eastern European foods as well as Greek and Indian. I think their things are pretty good, so if you bump into any give them a try.

Aleks mentioned that the stuffed cabbage “drama” can be made using fresh or preserved cabbage, or a mix of both. Since I still had that single jar of the preserved I got from them, I decided to go with the mixed method.

I changed the original recipe a bit. For instance I rinsed the preserved cabbage to get rid of the salt and the excessive kraut flavor, not that there’s anything wrong with that. I just wanted to make it a bit milder.

To prepare the fresh cabbage leaves for stuffing, I followed the excellent advice of a great food blog, whose name, unfortunately, I don’t remember and forgot to write down. This blog recommended steaming the whole fresh cabbage after removing the core with a knife. That allows you to easily peel the leaves free (though they’re hot, so watch your fingers).

This turned out to be really good. We loved it the first night. We brought some leftovers to our dear friend, John’s, the next day and we all enjoyed them again. The leftover-leftovers proved to be super the following day, too. For sure I shall be making more of this once we get the kitchen back in its groove again.

vegan stuffed cabbage

1 jar preserved whole cabbage leaves (sauerkraut)
1 medium to large head of fresh cabbage
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cups Thai jasmine rice
½ tsp dried fenugreek leaves
1 cup broken raw cashew nuts
1 cup soy protein
1 can Roma tomatoes with juice (24oz)
1 tbsp paprika
5 fronds Italian parsley
Fresh black pepper to taste
Kosher salt to taste
3 fresh tomatoes, cut into slices
½ lemon, juiced (or more)
1 green bell pepper, chopped
~2 cup hot lightly salted vegetable broth or just plain water
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 whole scallions, chopped

steaming the fresh cabbage

steaming the fresh cabbage

beautiful steamed cabbage leaves ready for stuffing

beautiful steamed cabbage leaves ready for stuffing

Soak soy protein in hot water for about 10 minutes. Rinse in cold water and squeeze out as much water as possible. Set aside.

Place 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a stockpot. Add onion and cook until translucent. Add soy protein, paprika, salt, black pepper, cashews then sauté for a couple of minutes. Add rice and continue sautéing for another minute or so. Add canned tomato with juices along with ½ cup of water. Bring temperature to a boil and then reduce to simmer for about 5 minutes, just as so to parboil the rice. Stir every minute or so to prevent burning and sticking. Set aside with lid on for all juices to be absorbed.

filling the base of a heavy pot with veggies prior to adding stuffed cabbage prevents sticking

filling the base of a heavy pot with veggies prior to adding stuffed cabbage prevents sticking

beginnning to layer the stuffed cabbage

beginnning to layer the stuffed cabbage

more layers of stuffed cabbage

more layers of stuffed cabbage

boiling the veggie broth after stuffed cabbage have all been added

boiling the veggie broth after stuffed cabbage have all been added

Rinse and drain preserved cabbage, reserving a couple of tablespoons of the preserving liquid to pour over the rolled cabbage later on.

Meanwhile cut the core of the fresh cabbage off from its base using a pairing knife. Remove any wilted or damaged outer leaves. Place trimmed cabbage in a steamer and steam for about 12 minutes. Carefully peel outer leaves off and set aside. They should be large enough to roll up with stuffing. With mine I was able to stuff about ¾ of the cabbage.

Trim the leaves a bit by cutting off the bumpy part next to the stem to allow them to flatten better.

Using a large heavy pot, fill the bottom about an inch with leftover fresh and a leaf of preserved cabbage that you’ve chopped. Scatter tomato slices, green pepper, and scallions over cabbage. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Drizzle about a tablespoon of olive oil over top.

Build your stuffed cabbage by flattening the leaves on a cutting board. Then add a tablespoon or more of the rice mix in the center of each leaf, depending on its size. Fold it like you were rolling a cigar or making a burrito, tucking the sides in. Place it carefully, folded side down at the bottom of the pan. Repeat process with remaining leaves. Pack them tightly in the pan, trying to alternate between fresh and preserved cabbage. Pour hot broth and reserved kraut juice over stuffed cabbage, add parsley, drizzle with remaining of olive oil. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for a half hour. Let stand 10-15 min before serving. Despite all the steps I find making this is a breeze. So give it a try sometime and let us know what you think. Cheers!

wonderful platter of vegan stuffed cabbage

wonderful platter of vegan stuffed cabbage

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Su March 28, 2011 at 2:00 am

I did a similar recipe the other day, but with turkey minced meat. http://suvellecouisine.blogspot.com/2011/03/o-verde-e-o-amarelo-tao-tipicos-da.html

Anyway I think this one of yours must also be fabulous.

Angie's Recipes March 28, 2011 at 12:16 pm

I could have take a dozen of those cabbage parcels.
Soya protein…mmm…that sounds marvelous. I am a fan of soya products.
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Angie's Recipes March 28, 2011 at 12:41 pm

p.s The relationship between Ephiphany and Mardi Gras…I think they do relate to each other.
The Carnival season kicks off with the “Epiphany”, also known as Twelfth Night, Three Kings’ Day in England. Epiphany, which falls on January 6, 12 days after Christmas, celebrates the visit of the Wise Men bearing gifts for the infant Jesus. In cultures that celebrate Carnival, Epiphany kicks off a series of parties leading up to Mardi Gras. Again slightly different from “Karneval” season here in Koeln.
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LeQuan March 28, 2011 at 4:05 pm

Omg, these look absolutely delicious! I love that picture with all the veggies in the pot. I’m not a huge meat eater so these would be a very satisfying meal for me. What a wonderful recipe! Now this is healthy, delicious cooking – yumms!
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Velva March 28, 2011 at 5:13 pm

I grew up eating stuffed cabbage. It is a wonderful dish. I think your vegan stuffed cabbage really looks fabulous. What a new wonderful way for me to prepare it. Thanks for sharing.

Cheers.
Velva
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tasteofbeirut March 29, 2011 at 1:58 pm

Stuffed cabbage leaves is a very traditional lebanese dish as well and the cabbage leaves get blanched beforehand to make them pliable; I have always felt frustrated though because the variety of cabbage available in the States has tougher leaves (no matter how long they are boiled) and the dish does not taste as delicate; you have just given me the idea to try it with pickled cabbage leaves and I am familiar with this brand (I think it may be Turkish).
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Stevie March 29, 2011 at 6:17 pm

I didn’t realize that there was so much to it! Thanks for the great info. Years ago I went to San Juan Puerto Rico with my sister around Christmas. They were way more into the Three Kings celebration in January and in a relative sense, not too excited by X-mas. Different. Unfortunately the lack of holiday enthusiasm didn’t mean that all the shops and restaurants didn’t close. They did! It was really tough finding something decent to eat on that December 25th. I think that we ended up going to Denney’s. So sad…

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