Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

This super-easy weeknight meal is healthy, cheap and filling. Cabbage leaves are boiled until soft and pliable, stuffed with a simple lentil-walnut “ground beef” and rice filling (though there’s a paleo variation, a nut-free variation and an even cheaper variation listed below), rolled up and smothered in tomato sauce, then baked. I ate these all the time while training for the Colfax Marathon because I needed hella nutrients but didn’t have as much time to cook for myself.

Yield: About 8 Servings

  • 1 medium/large head green cabbage, rinsed
  • 1 jar tomato-basil pasta sauce (for this recipe I like Simple Truth, which is Kroger’s generic organic brand*)
  • Roughly 3 cups cooked brown rice (can be leftover)
  • 1 1/4 cup green or brown lentils (or you can use 3 cups leftover cooked lentils)
  • 1 bouillon cube or 2 tsp Better than Bouillon
  • Roughly 1.5 cups walnuts, soaked for at least 2 hours or overnight
  • 1.5 tsp chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp tamari, soy sauce or liquid aminos
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce (the Kroger generic brand is vegan**)
  • 3/4 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 3/4 tsp black pepper
  • Optional: cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes or hot sauce to taste

Note: If you don’t have one or a couple of the seasoning ingredients, it’s not the end of the world. Just season the filling with what you have until it’s nice and savory and you’re happy with it. If you want to use oregano and basil instead of cumin and coriander, it’s your world.

  1. In a small, covered pot, bring 2.5 cups of water to a boil with the lentils and bouillon. Lower heat to medium and cook, covered, until lentils are soft but not mushy (about 20 minutes.) Remove lentils from pot and allow to cool
  2. In a large pot on high heat, boil roughly two quarts of water (or enough to cover the cabbage) with a teaspoon of salt. Cut around the core of the cabbage. You don’t have to cut the core out, but cut around it so that you can easily detach the leaves once they’re soft
  3. Once the water is boiling, add the whole cabbage. As the outer leaves cook and soften, gently detach them so that the leaves underneath can cook too. Once each leaf is soft and pliable, remove it from the water and drain in a colander
  4. Drain and thoroughly rinse the walnuts, then pulse in a food processor until broken into small crumbles. Add the cooled lentils and pulse until crumbly as well
  5. Empty the lentils, walnuts and rice into a large mixing bowl and mix together with all of the seasoning ingredients (chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, coriander, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, balsamic vinegar, pepper and optional hot sauce/red pepper.) Taste and adjust to your liking
  6. Preheat your oven to 350F. Spread a large cabbage leaf out on a cutting board and cut out a triangle of the thick, stem-like piece at the bottom so that it’s easier to roll up. Spoon about three spoonfuls of filling into the middle of the leaf and roll up like a burrito or summer roll, tucking in the sides. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Repeat with each cabbage leaf until your filling is used up
  7. Spread about half the tomato sauce onto the bottom of a 9×13 baking pan. Place each cabbage roll into the pan- it’s fine to get them really crowded. Once your cabbage rolls are all packed into the pan, spread the rest of the tomato sauce on top
  8. Bake uncovered for about 25 minutes or until the tops of the rolls are wrinkly

Paleo Version: 

Use cauliflower rice and substitute soaked sunflower seeds and/or pumpkin seeds for the lentils. Use coconut aminos instead of soy sauce

Nut-Free Version:

Substitute soaked sunflower seeds and/or pumpkin seeds for the walnuts

Cheaper Version:

Omit the walnuts and just use all lentils

 

 

 

*if you want to make your tomato sauce from scratch, knock yourself out

**I’m not in any way affiliated with or compensated by Kroger or any affiliated brand, I just recommend some of their products because they’re on the affordable end of the spectrum and fairly widespread across the US.

Vegan Vietnamese Summer Rolls with Peanut-Lime Dipping Sauce

Vegan Vietnamese Summer Rolls with Peanut-Lime Dipping Sauce

This is the #1 dish I make most often throughout the warm months of the year. I keep waiting to get sick of them, but I never do. They’re great as an appetizer, a light lunch, a way to impress guests or as an addition to a summer picnic or potluck. Essentially you’re eating a salad- you’re getting all the beautiful colors and nutrients and all the crunch of those fresh veggies- but they are about a thousand times more satisfying and fun.

Called gỏi cuốn and originally hailing from Vietnam, this dish is a classic. This version of the sauce  deviates a bit from the traditional version in order to better balance the lack of animals in the rolls, but it’s quick and easy to throw together.

Above all, these rolls are very flexible. The mint and basil are pretty key, but if you don’t have one or a few of the other veggies on hand, it’s no problem. You ideally want all of those different colors and textures and nutrients, but even in the picture above you can see that I made the rolls without lettuce, bean sprouts or carrots, and it was fine. Even if you don’t have the rice noodles on hand, you can do an all-veggie version that’s still good. Likewise, if you want to throw in other veggies, strips of grilled tofu, sautéed oyster mushrooms, or even kimchi or green papaya salad for some cross-cultural fusion, the world is your proverbial oyster.

summer roll

Yield: 6 large summer rolls

  • 6 circular rice paper wrappers*
  • Rice vermicelli or bean thread noodles*
  • 2 carrots, julienned or peeled into ribbons
  • 1/3 red cabbage, sliced into thin strips
  • 3 large romaine lettuce leaves, cut down the middle lengthwise and then in half
  • ½ cucumber, sliced lengthwise into thin strips
  • 1 handful cilantro
  • 1 handful Thai basil (regular basil will work ok if you can’t get Thai basil)
  • 1 handful fresh mint
  • 2 handfuls rinsed bean sprouts, optional
  • large, shallow bowl of warm water

Sauce:

  • ½  cup + 2 Tbsp crunchy or creamy peanut butter**
  • 2 Tbsp tamari or soy sauce
  • juice and pulp of one lime
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 Tbsp ginger
  • 1-3 Tbsp sambal oelek or Sriracha, depending on how much you like spice
  • 1.5 Tbsp agave, maple syrup or date paste
  • 1.5 Tbsp hoisin sauce (make sure it’s vegan and/or gluten-free if that’s important to you)
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 1 tsp sesame oil

*These can be found at International and Asian grocery stores, most Whole Foods stores (albeit for five times the price), or can be bought online

** Most standard peanut butter has added sugar/sweetener in it, and most “natural” peanut butter does not (check your labels to make sure.) No judgment if you’re not using the natural stuff, but in that case you may not need to add as much agave/maple syrup/date paste to your sauce. Hold off on adding them at first and then taste your sauce and add them in only if you want additional sweetness.

  1. In a blender or with a handheld immersion blender, blend the garlic and ginger together with the lime juice and tamari. Add in the sambal/Sriracha, sweetener, hoisin sauce and sesame oil and blend until smooth. Then add the peanut butter and blend or whisk until fully incorporated
  2. Make sure to have all of your prepped ingredients ready and in reach. Soak a rice paper wrapper in warm water for about five seconds. Lay it flat on a large cutting board
  3. Carefully layer your ingredients on the lower third of the wrapper, leaving about an inch of empty wrapper on both sides and below
  4. Roll as shown here. It takes a little bit of practice, but even if at first they come out looking a little wackadoo at first, they’ll still taste great.

NOTE- different brands of rice paper wrappers will need a little more or less time to soak in the water before they’re pliable, so if you try one and it’s too stiff or too mushy, take note and adjust as you go

summer rolls 1
from https://senioryear2realworld.wordpress.com/2014/03/10/spring-rolls-and-thai-peanut-dipping-sauce/

Serve them immediately, dunk them in sauce and enjoy!

Pulled Jackfruit Barbecue Sandwiches

Pulled Jackfruit Barbecue Sandwiches

Since moving out West, Southern barbecue has been my most-requested meal by far. And since it’s summer and I see no need to mess around, we’re gonna get right to the good stuff.

Before moving to the South, I never knew what real barbecue was. As a Jewish girl from New York, pulled pork wasn’t really on my radar, and I had no idea that different regions of the country have such different approaches to and definitions of barbecue (“You mean not everyone just dumps a bottle of KC Masterpiece on some grilled chicken and calls it a day?”) Then I spent three years in the heart of North Carolina, and as you can imagine, I had to spend all of those years intensively studying BBQ and its very different regional incarnations across the US. After all that research, the question remained of how to make this soulful American legacy vegan without turning it into a national disgrace.

After spending two years recipe-testing everything from barbecued tofu to barbecued pumpkin, I found that by far the most successful vegan barbecue mediums are actually mushrooms and jackfruit. Info on how to do mushroom barbecue will be coming soon, but for today, here’s a run-down of how to make the ultimate jackfruit barbecue sandwich.

Jackfruit barbecue is cheap, easy, shockingly healthy (without tasting healthy), and significantly less time-consuming than any meat-based barbecue. From the look and the texture of the pulled jackfruit, it naturally looks just like pulled pork. Many a meat-eater has fallen in love with these sandwiches, and most of said meat-eaters had a very hard time believing they were vegan.

THE SAUCE

bbq sauce

If you’re a purist partial to any particular regional style, please don’t get mad that this sauce is a hybrid. But the combination of mustard (a la South Carolina), brown sugar and molasses (a la Kansas City), vinegar (a la Memphis and Eastern North Carolina), tomato base (a la western North Carolina), some optional heat (a la East Texas) and that slight smokiness (a la Central Texas) create a big, bold, balanced flavor profile that gives you the best of everything.

This recipe makes enough sauce for about 10 cans of jackfruit (roughly 15-17 sandwiches) so you can cut it in half if you want a smaller yield, or to make your life easier, make the full batch and freeze the extra for next time.

Can you use store-bought BBQ sauce from a jar if you’re short on time? Absolutely. Have I done it? Yes, no shame. Just open the bottle, taste it and adjust as needed by adding a little Worcestershire sauce, a little mustard or whatever it needs. But barbecue is really all about the sauce, so scratch-made is always best.

  • 1 28oz can tomato puree
  • 2 large yellow onions, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp liquid smoke
  • ½ cup brown sugar (you can sub coconut sugar if you don’t do refined sugar)
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce (Kroger generic brand is vegan)
  • 3 Tbsp tamari, soy sauce or liquid aminos (coconut aminos work ok if you do zero soy)
  • 1/2 cup mustard
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 1.5 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2+ Tbsp hot sauce (optional)
  1. Heat a large pot on medium-high, do not add oil
  2. Once the pot is hot, add the onions (without oil) with about half a teaspoon of salt. Stir thoroughly so that the salt coats the onions- the salt will draw out the excess water and allow it to evaporate. This should take about 7 minutes- stir occasionally
  3. Once the water has evaporated and the onions are sticking to the pan, add your olive oil. Keep stirring occasionally and allowing the onions to cook
  4. Only once the onions are pretty golden-brown, add your garlic. Stir and allow the garlic to cook with the onions for about two minutes, or until it starts to get golden-brown too. If your pan is too thin and you get a lot of residue sticking to the bottom that you can’t scrape up, add a little bit of water straight onto the residue to let it de-glaze (those caramelized sugars will just re-coat your onions and make them even more delicious.)

NOTE- do not half-ass the cooking of your onions, take the time to really let them caramelize (more info on this here.) You want them deeply golden-brown, not just flaccid and translucent. Your sautéed onions and garlic are the flavor base of every dish you make with them, so how you cook them will seriously impact the flavor of the dish. I always use this method; it doesn’t necessarily make the total cook time longer because you can use the time the onions are cooking to prep and measure out your other ingredients. I promise, it’s worth it.

  1. Lower the heat to medium and add the tomato puree and the rest of the ingredients. Cover the pot and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 15-20 minutes
  2. Puree the sauce with a handheld immersion blender or in a heat-safe blender
  3. Taste and adjust the sauce to how you like it

THE JACKFRUIT

While it seems to be the hot new trend in American vegan cooking, jackfruit has actually been used in various South and Southeast Asian culinary traditions for ages. For barbecue, you actually want canned jackfruit rather than fresh. Make sure it’s labeled “young” or “green” jackfruit in brine or water; nothing ripe and nothing in syrup. This unripe jackfruit has a neutral flavor that allows it to be used as a blank canvas. You can find it in most Asian grocery stores and many other international markets as well as Trader Joe’s, and it’s pretty inexpensive; a 20oz can of jackfruit will generally run you about $1.20-2.00.

Two cans will yield enough for about three sandwiches.

  1. Preheat oven to 375F
  2. Drain jackfruit into a colander and with your hands, squeeze out as much excess water as you can
  3. Shred: each piece generally has a top part that’s stringy and easy to separate into shreds, and then a denser bottom part that you can shred with your (clean) fingernails or a knife and fork. There will be little seed pods here and there as well- those are edible and can also be shredded up
  4. Toss jackfruit with a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper
  5. Spread jackfruit out onto a baking sheet lined in parchment paper- make sure it’s not too overcrowded
  6. Place baking sheet in pre-heated oven and bake for about 20-30 minutes, or until beginning to get golden and crispy at the edges. This removes the excess water, giving the jackfruit a better texture and allowing it to soak up more flavor from the sauce. This is the important step that a lot of chefs leave out, and it’s a game-changer.
  7. Remove jackfruit from oven and mix with BBQ sauce

THE SLAW

  • ½ medium green cabbage, sliced into thin strips
  • ½ red onion, sliced into thin strips
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 1 handful cilantro, chopped (optional)
  • ½ cup vegan mayo
  • ¼ cup mustard
  • 1 tsp dill
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  1. Whisk together mustard, mayo, dill, salt, pepper and apple cider vinegar
  2. Throw the cabbage, carrots, cilantro and red onion into a large mixing bowl and pour the sauce in, mixing thoroughly

ASSEMBLE

Toast up a bun (gluten-free or regular, or no bun/lettuce wrap if you’re paleo), throw some of the jackfruit on there, top it with some slaw. If you have leftover BBQ jackfruit, you can throw it on nachos, in burrito bowls, or my favorite, on top of burgers.

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