I wasn’t a big fan of cabbage when I was young because it was almost always overcooked and tasteless. Now, I’d say it’s one of my favourite vegetables and I love finding new ways to cook it, like this recipe for stuffed and baked Savoy cabbage leaves; it’s also less carbs and calories than using pasta shells or lasagne sheets. If you have ‘Money in the bank’ tomato sauce in the freezer and leftover risotto, roast vegetables, ricotta or roast meat like beef or lamb, you can make up your own stuffings and whip this up really quickly. If you don’t, this is how to make my version from scratch stuffed with spiced brown rice and minced lamb, topped with smooth tomato sauce and feta cheese.
- Savoy cabbage – peel eight of the largest ones away so they remain intact. Finely chop a quarter of the cabbage heart for the stuffing.
- 100g cooked brown rice (or leftover risotto)
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Pinch of sugar
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 400g minced beef or lamb (you could also use chopped leftover roast ham, beef or lamb)
- 1 tsp oregano
- 50ml white wine
- 2 tbsps olive oil
- 50g feta or Mozzarella cheese
- Sauce: I onion, I carrot, I stick of celery, 1 clove of garlic – chopped. 350g Passata, 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- To make the sauce, gently sauté the onion, celery, carrot and garlic in a tablespoon of the oil for 8 minutes until softened. Add the Passata, red wine vinegar, a tsp of salt and a pinch of sugar. Simmer for 20 minutes and then blitz with a hand blender until smooth. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil and place the cabbage leaves in the water, stalk ends up. Bring the water back to the boil and simmer for about 5 minutes; then remove the leaves, refresh with cold water and drain on kitchen paper.
- To make the stuffing, heat the oil and butter together and fry the chopped shallot with the garlic gently until soft and golden. Add the minced lamb and brown it, turning the heat up a bit. Mix in the chopped cabbage, cooked rice, oregano, paprika, chilli flakes, and white wine, seasoning well. Cook through for a few minutes – it should be quite sticky once any excess moisture cooks out. Remove the pan and let the mixture cool slightly. Now make a V-shaped cut to remove the thickest part of the stalk from the base of each leaf, place about a tablespoon of stuffing in the centre of each leaf, fold in the sides and roll the leaf up tightly.
- Add a little of the tomato sauce to the base of a baking dish, then pack the rolled leaves closely together in a casserole and pour the remaining tomato sauce over; cover and cook in the oven for 11/2-2 hours at 170°C.
- Drizzle a little extra-virgin oil and some crumbled feta over the top before serving.
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