The weather in the northeast this winter has hardly been rough, to say the least. We have had a ‘non-measurable’ amount of snow in February apparently, which has only happened something like one other time in recorded history?! It has felt like spring off and on for weeks well before the holidays, while places like Georgia and North Carolina were slammed with snow earlier in January. I am missing the white stuff in a big way but very glad I didn’t splurge on new snow boots since I may never need them again! How sad. Snapped this picture in front of the Old South Church on Boylston Street recently, as it reminded me of the emergent season of spring quickly approaching – that is exciting!

Back on track…making stuffed cabbage leaves! I have made this recipe a few times and I have no idea where I  got the initial inspiration as it is not something I ever ate growing up and I don’t think I ever had it actually until I made it. It is a bit time consuming but a great dish to make as the leftovers only get better for a few days. My recipe is slightly modified from Joy, of course. Start by bringing a large pasta pot to a rolling boil (you can salt if you like but not really necessary) to boil your cabbage leaves. While the water heats up, dice up 1-2 small/medium sized yellow onions and grate about 1-1/2 cups of carrots. Toss into a heavy bottomed pan with vegetable oil, and throw in a few cloves of smashed garlic.

Cut some spicy, Italian-style (nitrate free!) sausage from the casings, or if you are smarter than me, buy the sausage already ground not in the casings. I just used my kitchen shears to snip down the entire length of five links and then broke up the meat in the pan.

Saute in the pan with carrots and onions, being sure to scrape the bottom of the pan to incorporate all the  flavor.

By now, your water is hopefully boiling so gently roll your cabbage head into the pot (don’t overflow it!). Kinda looks like a green alien, huh?

I occassionally would spin the cabbage around in the pot so that it was evenly boiled as it hardly fit in my pasta pot! Note to self: get a smaller cabbage next time! I boiled it for about a total of 10-12 minutes. When done, CAREFULLY (it will be SO SO hot) remove the cabbage from the water. I poured the entire pot into a large strainer in the sink but using good tongs or even a kitchen towel could be useful to extract it out of the hot bath. Let the cabbage sit for a few minutes, as Joy recommends, until it is cool enough to handle. Meanwhile, I had some brown rice I already cooked up so I added that to my saute pan to warm it through and then pulled it off the stove. 

The next part is la assemblage. I also wanted to throw in some Berkshire Blue Cheese that I had leftover. 

This is the rest of the cast of characters to make a saucy concoction to pour over the entire stuffed leave at the end.

To make the sauce, I simply combined about a cup of red marinara sauce with 1/2 cup of sherry wine, and 1/4 cup of brown sugar, to let it come to a simmer.

My cabbage was cooled so I started to cut off the leaves with my kitchen shears.

Pile the cut leaves onto a plate near your assembly line and when you are ready, stuff, wrap, and roll!

I placed about a 1/2 cup of the vegetable, sausage, rice, cheese blend in the center of each leaf, tucked in the sides like you are making a burrito, and then place seam-side down in an ungreased baking dish. One…

and done! Magic! This didn’t take too long really. Just do it, like Nike says.

After rolling, pour your sauce over the top of the leaves, to evenly coat the entire dish. Then pop them in the oven for about 15 minutes at 400 degrees.

Gorgeous! The flavor is incredible on these; very complex and multi-layered. Yum yum yum.

Big hearty flavor to warm you up on those last few ‘winter’ nights before its all asparagus and pears! Unfortunately, I have no idea how to estimate the calories but this seems to be a balanced, healthy meal to me, full of fiber from the brown rice (and protein), a full serving of vegetables, protein from the sausage, and lots of vitamins from the colorful ingredients. Enjoy!