Friday, February 16, 2007

To roll or not to roll? That's the question.
With a small, firm head of cabbage, I faced the dilemma of futzing with small leaves to wrap around a fragrant Japonica rice filling. Then decided that a cabbage and rice casserole might be just the trick to produce the taste of stuffed cabbages without the labor intensive task of removing each leaf, then filling it and rolling it. After removing the tough outer leaves, cut the cabbage in half through the stem end and remove the tough stem, though with a tiny cabbage, there isn't a lot of stem to remove. Slice the halves in generous one inch slices, place in a microwaveable bowl with a sprinkling of water and give it 5 minutes in the microwave to just barely soften the leaves.

Meanwhile start a cup of Lundberg's Japonica rice (that great full flavored mahogany and black combination) with 1-1/2 cups of water, 1 TBS of butter and a tsp of salt. In a separate pan sauté a simple mirapoix in olive oil, one carrot, one medium yellow onion, one stalk of celery, diced. I added a clove of garlic minced, and because I had it in the vegetable bin, a diced jalepeño pepper. Just a note about seasoning: I like to season in layers as I go rather than adding it all at the end. A light 1/4 tsp of kosher salt and a few grinds of fresh pepper added after each addition of the mirapoix ingredients produces a more evenly seasoned dish. But season to your taste, not mine. After the vegetables have softened (add a few drops of water if necessary, rather than more oil) add a 15 oz can of fire roasted diced tomatoes and 1 TBS of spicy sauce. I use the term 'spicy sauce' as there's no need to run out and buy Pickapeppa, which is what I used. Any good steak sauce, like A1 or A1 Bold, will give the mixture a kick and if you leave it out, it will still be fine.

When the rice is cooked, about 40 minutes, it will have a nutty taste and chewy texture, some might even mistake it for meat, add the tomato/veggie mixture and combine thoroughly. Taste for seasoning. Layer the cabbage slices and the rice in an ovenproof casserole. Cover the bottom with a single layer of cabbage, follow with a generous layer of the rice mixture, cover the rice with another single layer of cabbage slices and if there is rice left over, dollop it over the top.

There was a little water in the bottom of the cabbage dish, I poured that right in over the top before covering with foil and placing in a preheated 350° oven for about 45 minutes or until the cabbage was cooked but still green and hadn't completely wilted away.

A small can of tomato sauce heated with 1 TBS of brown sugar and 2 TBS or rice wine vinegar makes a nice serving sauce or the sauce can be added to the casserole before placing in the oven or don't use any sauce— this is a very forgiving dish.
Prep time runs about 30 minutes and cooking time close to an hour. It's not as fast as some of my suggestions, but once made, it provides more than one meal if you're cooking for one or two. Serve the leftovers in some chicken broth for a fast soup. Or use as a side dish with a meat entrée later in the week. Or just reheat it and eat it as is!

Till next time . . .keep on cooking!


Asha said...

I say roll!;D

Looks great,I have never heard about this Japonica rice!Interesting.

Have a great weekend Joyce.

Freya said...

This looks like a yummy dish, I've never heard of it before so I might give it a go!
Have a lovely weekend!