Its been raining non-stop in Peterborough for almost a week now, and I felt like the house could use some cheering. We also had a cupboard full of cabbages harvested last week, and a Sunday off work, and the whole set-up just screamed cabbage roll dinner party. So that's what we did.
Now, cabbage rolls are generally a ground beef and rice kind of recipe, but Agata is wise in all things Polish and vegan and came up with a (delicious) solution. These cabbage rolls are not only fun to make, but they also happen to be (a non-meat variation on) Agata's family recipe.
2 large onions, finely diced
1 cup cooked brown lentils
2 cups cooked brown rice
4 cups button mushrooms, diced (or, if you feel like splurging, throw some shitakes in there)
1 cup dried mushrooms, if you have them.
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sea salt, or to taste
One large cabbage
1 can of diced tomatoes - (or approx. 5 ripe medium tomatoes)
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp soy sauce (or Worcestershire sauce, but its not vegan)
Part one - prepare your filling
1. If you are using dried mushrooms, re-hydrate them in two cups of water for ten minutes.
2. Save the mushroom water, and add it as part of the water you cook your rice in. The mushroom water is quite rich, and the flavours will really come through in your rice.
3. Fry your onions and mushrooms together until softened, and combine in a bowl with the cooked rice, lentils, sesame oil and salt.
Part two - prepare your cabbage wrappers
1. Remove any damaged outer leaves from your cabbage - do not discard!
2. Place the entire cabbage in a pot, about 1/4 filled with water. Cover the pot and steam the cabbage for ten minutes.
3. After being steamed, the cabbage leaves should come off easily and without tearing. Remove the leaves from the cabbage. As you remove the leaves, carefully shave down the cabbage spines. You do this by turning the leaves upside down (so the raised spine is visible) and carefully running your knife along the leaf removing the raised part of the spine only. The whole leaf should still be in tact, but the thicker spine should reduced.
4. Roll the filling into the cabbage leaf like you would roll a burrito, tucking the ends in.
Part three - cook the cabbage rolls
1. Line the bottom of a large pot with the damaged outer cabbage leaves (or the broken or ugly ones) removed earlier. These will act as a barrier and make sure your cabbage rolls don't burn while they cook.
2. Place your cabbage rolls in the pot - its fine to stack them if you made a lot.
3. Add one cup of water, cover and steam the cabbage rolls for 45 minutes.
4. While the cabbage rolls are cooking, combine the sauce ingredients in a separate saucepan and use an immersion blender to combine. Bring the sauce to a boil and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Serve the cabbage rolls warm, and covered in tomato sauce. Enjoy!