I got a head of cabbage in my produce box last week. I thought I was cabbaged out, and wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it. I considered cole-slaw, but I wasn’t really in the mood for such a summery side dish. I had just done corned-beef and cabbage for St. Pat’s, so the thought of plain ol’ boiled cabbage didn’t really appeal, either. I started googling and searching on Tastespotting for cabbage recipes, and landed, finally, on stuffed cabbage leaves.
There are so many variations on this dish – many have meat, some do not. I chose to do mine meat-free, since I was serving chicken as my protein for dinner. I ran into a few issues in the process, but overall I’d say the end product was a success.
1 head green cabbage
2 small zucchini, shredded
2 small carrots, shredded
2 cups brown rice
4 oz. Feta cheese
1 shallot, minced
3 green onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon fresh mint, minced
Juice of 1 lemon
2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
Cabbage leaves to line pan
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
Remove outer leaves from cabbage and set aside. Remove the core from the center of the cabbage.
Bring water to a boil in a deep saucepan Place head of cabbage in boiling water. As the outer leaves turn bright green, remove them and set them aside. Continue this process until all leaves are softened.
For the filling:
Saute shallot, green onion, and garlic in 1 tablespoon olive oil. Combine rice, zucchini, carrot, onion mixutre, feta cheese, lemon juice, remaining olive oil and salt a pepper in a bowl.
***NOTE: I used uncooked rice. I looked at a number of different recipes, and for some reason settled on a couple that did not pre-cook the rice. I don’t know why I thought this was a good idea – it took more than an hour to cook in the oven, and some of the rice never got done. I highly recommend using COOKED RICE if you decide to try this recipe yourself (flavor-wise, it was great).***
Line a glass baking dish with outer leaves of cabbage.
Preheat your oven to 350F
Place your softened cabbage leaves on your work surface – spread them as flat as you can without tearing them. In the larger leaves, place two heaping tablespoons of filling in the center of the leaf. Fold the stem end up over the filling, and the leaf end down over the stem end. Fold the sides in so that they overlap. Do not fill them too full, as the rice will expand as it cooks. They will look like little rectangular packages.
Line them up snugly in your dish. Pour the chicken broth over the stuffed cabbage leaves and cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil. Place in the preheated oven and cook for an hour, or until rice is completely done. I used brown rice, so it took especially long. If you used pre-cooked rice, it would probably only take 20-30 minutes.
For the chicken:
3 chicken breasts
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons butter
Zest of two lemons
Juice of two lemons
1 cup chicken broth
Pound your chicken breasts to 1/4 inch thick cutlets. Combine the flour, salt and 1/2 the zest in a shallow dish -stir thoroughly to combine. Dredge your chicken cutlets in the flour mixture.
Melt butter and olive oil in a skillet. Saute dredged chicken for 5 minutes, turning once. You may have to do them in batches, depending on the size of your skillet. Once all breasts are cooked through, return them to the pan. Pour the broth and lemon juice into pan and bring to a simmer. Allow liquid to reduce and thicken slightly.
Serve chicken with cabbage leaves, and pour sauce from chicken over the whole thing.