Oct 13, 2013

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Tomato Cranberry Sauce

From the 1930's through the 1960's, the Upper East Side (where we live now) was known as "Germantown". In fact, East 86th Street was called the "German Broadway". The expression "to 86", used in restaurants to signify to stop serving something (or someone), possibly came out of anti-German sentiment during World War II. (Now, I have to admit, this was a story I always grew up hearing but could find no proof of it after an etymological search on the internet. Do any linguists care to enlighten me?)

In any event, we decided to celebrate our new neighborhood's former roots at our last dinner party by serving Stuffed Cabbage and Apple Streusel Egg Muffins. Always on the search for cookbooks that will support my diet rather than remind me of all the wonderful foods I'm now denying myself, I picked up a copy of Practical Paleo. Putting aside the health claims of going back to how cavemen ate (and, I'd venture to guess, none of these recipes bare any resemblance to cavemen's diets), the Paleo diet focuses on eating eggs, fruits, meat, nuts, seafood and vegetables and eliminates dairy, grains and sweeteners. Sounds familiar, no? (I haven't completely eliminated all grains but I do try to limit my intake of them so this seemed like an excellent jumping-off point.)

The biggest problem, in my mind, with a Paleo diet is that, realistically, it's not vegetarian-friendly. Sure, you can have lots of vegetables, but without legumes, grains or dairy, there's nothing there to really "bulk up" your foods and make them filling. There's also a heavy reliance on animal protein. That said, "vegetarianizing" recipes is now old-hat. So, it wasn't too hard to adapt the Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Tomato Cranberry Sauce to both our tastes. I'm including the recipe for both the omnivore and vegetarian versions. Guten appetit!

*Vegetarian's Note:  Normally I handle the photographic elements of this blog, but this was one of the more enjoyable meals we've had the pleasure to serve.  As you can see from the picture here, this dish was a HUGE hit with our guests :)

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Tomato Cranberry Sauce

First make the cranberry sauce: Cook cranberries and water together in a saucepan for 15 minutes, until all cranberries have popped. Stir in apricot juice. Remove from heat and let come to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Fill a large pot with a few inches of water. If you have a steamer basket, place it in the pot, filled with cabbage leaves. Bring water to a boil and steam cabbage leaves until soft and pliable, about 5 minutes. Let cool.

Meanwhile, melt coconut oil in a large skillet. Add cauliflower and saute, stirring, 3-5 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper.

In a large mixing bowl, combine lamb (or lentils), cauliflower, garlic, onion, thyme and 1/2 teaspoon each, salt and pepper. (If you don't mind getting your hands dirty, that's the best way to ensure that everything's well mixed together.)

Fill the bottom of 1 cabbage leaf with 1/4 cup filling and roll, first the bottom, then the sides, finally tucking the ends underneath. repeat with remaining leaves. As you fill them, nestle cabbage leaves tucked side down, in a dutch oven.

Meanwhile, combine tomatoes and cranberry sauce together in a skillet over medium heat. Cook 5 minutes, until the flavors are blended together. Pour sauce over cabbage rolls.

Place dish in oven and cover with foil or a lid. Bake 45 minutes. Enjoy



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