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Vegetarian Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

AMAZING STUFFED CABBAGE
From: The World-Famous Ratner’s Meatless Cookbook
By Judith Gethers & Elizabeth Lefft

Ratner’s was a famous Jewish kosher dairy restaurant on the Lower East Side of New York City. It was founded in 1905 and closed its doors in 2002. This stuffed cabbage recipe is from Ratner’s small paperback cookbook published in 1975. This tiny, well-worn cookbook is literally in a plastic sandwich bag to keep from losing pages.

I must warn you: This recipe is very time consuming! However, it is so delicious that it is worth making for special occasions and it is too good not to share. I allow 2 days to prepare the stuffed cabbage so it is a more manageable task. Day 1: Cook the rice or quinoa. While the grain is cooking, prepare and cook the tomato sauce.
Next, chop all the vegetables in the food processor and sauté according to directions. Each of these 3 components will stay well in the refrigerator until the next day when the cabbage gets cooked and stuffed.
Day 2: While the cabbage is boiling, slightly heat up the rice and stir in the vegetables, egg, salt and pepper. The cold vegetables and cold rice don’t adhere well which is why the grain needs some heating.
Once the cabbage is done, assembling the rolls goes quickly. This freezes nicely as well. When quinoa is used instead of rice, it makes a lovely Passover dish. I have found that the curlier Savoy cabbage is much easier to work with and now use it exclusively for this recipe.

RECIPE

1 large head green cabbage
1 cup rice, uncooked (works well with quinoa)
1 carrot
1 green pepper
2 stalks celery
1 onion
6 mushrooms
¼ cup butter (can also use olive oil)
1 egg
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 recipe Sauce (see below)
¼ cup raisins
2 tablespoons honey
1. Core cabbage. Cover with water and boil hard for 30 minutes. Drain and cool.
2. Remove 18 leaves from cabbage and shred 2 cups of remaining cabbage. Slice off hard rib to make leaf easier to roll.
3. Cook rice until tender according to package directions. Drain.
4. Preheat oven to 350 F. (Moderate).
5. Grind or finely chop carrot, green pepper, celery, onion and mushrooms. Sauté in butter until mushy but not brown.
6. Stir vegetables into rice. Stir in egg, salt and pepper to taste.

7. Place one heaping tablespoonful on each cabbage leaf. Fold leaf over filling once, turn in sides of leaf and continue rolling.
8. Spoon 1 cup of the sauce into a 9 X 13 X 2-inch pan. Place cabbage rolls, seam side down, in sauce.
9. Sprinkle raisins, honey and shredded cabbage over top.
10. Pour remaining sauce over cabbage rolls. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 1½ hours.

SAUCE

1 (1-pound 12-ounce) can tomato purée
1½ cups water
½ cup sugar (an additional ½ cup sugar may be added if a sweeter sauce is desired)
1½ tablespoons salt
1 apple, peeled, cored and grated
1 teaspoon sour salt (or lemon juice)

To prepare sauce, combine all ingredients in a saucepan and simmer for 30 minutes.

photo from Barefoot Contessa

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