Cabbage Stuffed with Lentils and Rice
(can use either the flat-leaf or crinkly Savoy)
-from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman
Makes: 8 to 10 rolls
Time: About 1 hour
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus a little for garnish
1/2 onion, chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 cups vegetable stock or water
1/2 cup brown, white, or basmati rice
1/2 cup dried lentils
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium head white cabbage
Gruyere, fontina, Gouda, or mozzarella cheese slices or butter (optional)
Chopped parsley or chives for garnish
1. Put the oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it’s soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, then add the stock and bring to a boil.
2. If you’re using brown rice, add it to the pot along with the lentils. If you’re using white or basmati rice, add the lentils and cook them for 5 minutes, then add the rice. Turn the heat to medium-low so that the mixture bubbles gently, cover, and cook until the lentils and rice are tender and the liquid is mostly absorbed (you don’t want it completely dry), 25 to 30 minutes. If there is excess liquid, take the cover off, turn the heat to high, and boil it off, being careful not to burn the bottom. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and set aside.
3. Meanwhile, use a thin-bladed sharp knife to cut a cone-shaped wedge out of the bottom of the cabbage, removing its core. Pull off 8 to 12 large, untorn leaves and put in a steamer above a couple inches of salted water. Cover and cook until the leaves are just flexible enough to bend. Make a V-cut in each leaf to remove the tough central stem.
4. To stuff the cabbage leaves, put a leaf, curved side up, on a counter or cutting board. Put 1/4 cup or so of filling in the center of the leaf, near where you cut off the stem. Fold over the sides, then roll up from the stem end, making a little package. Don’t roll too tightly — the mixture will expand as it cooks. Skewer the rolls with a toothpick or two to hold them together or just put them seam side down.
5. Put the cabbage packages in the steamer and cook until the cabbage is tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Top with a slice of cheese and run under the broiler until bubbly if you like or drizzle with olive oil or melt a pat of butter on top. Sprinkle with herbs and serve.
Variation: Simmer in Vegetable Stock or a Red Wine Sauce. For Step 5, instead of steaming, put the packages in simmering broth or sauce and cook until the cabbage is tender.
Flat-leafed green cabbage, crinkly-leafed Savoy, and deep red cabbage varieties. Can go with a traditional slaw, or steamed and served with butter and salt. And the leaves can also be steamed and used as a wrap for any number of savory fillings, like in the recipe above.