Sunday, July 31, 2011

Stuffed Cabbage - who knew it tasted so good?

OK, I'm guilty of getting cabbage from the CSA and then letting it sit in my fridge until I need the space for something else, then I throw the cabbage away.  Truly sad, I know.

This time I was determined to make good use of it.  So I stuffed it with every leftover I could find in the fridge and made one tasty pocket of goodness.  It's good on it's own, but I like to slather anything in sauce, so I made a tahini-miso sauce to accompany it.

I borrowed a vegetarian cookbook Mediterranean Harvest from my mom that had a stuffed cabbage recipe, but I didn't make anything resembling the recipe in the book.  The tip on preparing the cabbage, plus a method from somewhere on the internet gave me the courage to tackle this.

I made a bunch and keep forgetting to take a photo as it's plated.  Here's one right out of the fridge.  It doesn't look like much on it's own, but is surprisingly filling and delicious.

Preparing the cabbage:

Bring a large pot to boil.  Core the cabbage so it almost looks like a little cabbage hat.  (Save the core for broth.)  Once the water is boiling, add 1 tsp salt, turn off the heat, and (carefully) plunk in the cabbage head and cover.  Leave about 20 minutes.  Fish out the hot cabbage head and place in a large bowl and filled with cold water.  Just leave the cabbage hanging out in the water until you're ready with your filling.  I saved the pot of water and put in a bunch of other veggie trimmings for broth.  Sometimes cabbage isn't recommended when making broth, but I thought it turned out really nice and isn't particularly cabbagey.

Prepare the filling:
I used wild rice, sauteed mushrooms, a brown rice blend, grilled veggies - eggplant, peppers, squash, zucchini, onions, leeks.  This was all leftover stuff that went well together so I mixed it up.

Now fill the cabbages:

Take off one leaf and place on a cutting board with what would be the top facing toward you and the bottom stemmy part away from you.  I should have taken a photo.  The back end will curl up a bit and this is where you want to put the filling.  I used about 1/2 cup per leaf.  Then you fold like a burrito and put seamside down in a pan.  I cooked mine on the stove in an enameled cast iron pot (I love Le Creuset.)  When you've filled the pot with cabbage pockets, take about 1/2 cup of the cabbage water (or broth if you've already thrown in some other veggies) and add 1 TBS tomato paste.  Pour this over the cabbage and then simmer for about 20 minutes covered.  I had more cabbage pockets than the pan would hold, so I stuck a few in the freezer that I'll cook later.

Like I said, my filling started out good, so I didn't really need a sauce, I just wanted one.

Miso tahini sauce

Blend together:
1/4 cup tahini
2 TBS miso
2 TBS lemon juice
1/4 cup water
Pinch salt

I've got some posts to catch up on and I came across this photo from an excursion to Whole Foods (conveniently located near my new job):

And I accuse my mother of hoarding...Actually most of this has been used up by now.   I remember the vegan ravioli in the middle was really good!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Summer is for cold noodles

Part of the reason I enjoy coming to the beach to visit my mom is raiding her cupboards. I do also enjoy yelling at her that she has too much stuff and that I'm going to sign her up for Hoarders if she doesn't look out. Clean Sweep sounded fun. Hoarders she doesn't like. Then I take the stuff I like that I know she won't use before it expires and we're all happy.

It's hot and humid in Delaware in the summer which is why someone had the foresight to put a beach in walking distance. We'll hit the ocean later, but right now the house (climate controlled with a bunch of random fans) is a steam bath. Good for the skin, I'm sure, but it doesn't inspire me to want to make a hot meal.

So here's some summer udon noodles with a cold Asian peanut sauce. I used fairly even amounts of all the ingredients, but you can adjust in any combination based on what you like or have on hand.

Summer udon noodles with cold peanut sauce Serves 4 normal or 2 hungry people.

1 package of udon or other stringy noodles (the udon was 9 oz.)
2 small zucchini grated
2 small yellow squash grated
2 small carrots grated (a big handful of baby carrots works, too)

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar*
1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup peanut butter (chunky or smooth)

Boil water for noodles.

Optional: I used the strainer that goes in the pasta pot to blanch the veggies. You can leave them raw if you like, but I wanted them to kind of melt in with the sauce. I put the strainer in the pasta water pot with the veggies for about 2 minutes then took it out and ran them under cold water to stop the cooking and chill. Don't drain the pasta water, you need this to cook the noodles. I suppose you could always just start to cook the noodles then add the veggies for the last two minutes and drain the whole thing, but I only just thought of that now.

Cook noodles according to package directions (mine took 4 minutes) then drain and rinse with cold water.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, and peanut butter.

Mix the veggies and pasta into the sauce. Let it sit for about 5 minutes and taste for seasonings. You can eat it right away or stick it in the fridge to get even more chilled. The sauce will absorb more sauce the more you let it sit.

Serve in a shallow bowl or plate with chopsticks for slurping or a fork and spoon for twirling.

*Seasoned rice vinegar is the stuff you add to rice to make sushi rice. It's just rice vinegar with added salt and sugar. If you only have rice vinegar in your arsenal, that's fine, too, but you may consider adding a little mirin or sugar if it needs a little something when you taste for seasonings.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Summer Hummus with Zatar

I made the vcon hummus version with cauliflower and added some extra lemon juice and tahini. I used canned chickpeas, but I warmed them up before blending and added a bit of hot water which made it extra creamy. Sprinkled with a little Zatar on top and served with cucumber spears it's a refreshingly light and satisfying summer snack.