I have tried this out as a just vegetable variation.
In my Polish cookbooks there are many variations without meat and they use mushrooms or other vegetables and grains, but these tend to use just dried mushrooms and often rather than rice use buckwheat or pearl barley. Whilst these grains are maybe more traditionally Polish in style I wanted to do a recipe which would initially be more appealing to the English taste. Also I wanted to use mainly fresh mushrooms.
Ingredients for the filling
150 to 200g of rice
400g of mushroom caps – white and/or chestnut
Some butter to fry the mushrooms
5g of dried mushrooms (more if you desire)
A few tablespoons of boiling water
Salt & pepper to taste
In a small bowl add the boiling water to the dried mushrooms , just enough to cover them, and leave overnight.
Parboil the rice and leave to go cold. (You can use any already cooked rice you might have cooked already – it is not that critical – it will just have a softer texture).
Finely Slice up the mushroom caps (You can chop them into smaller pieces) and fry them in the butter until they are soft.
Using a knife make a pulp of the dried mushrooms or chop them into small pieces if they have not softened enough.
Add the mushroom pulp and the liquor in which they were steeped to the frying mushrooms and continue cooking the mixture evaporating of most of the liquid or about 10 minutes.
Leave the mushrooms to cool.
In a large bowl mix the parboiled rice and mushroom mix, add salt and pepper to taste.
Prepare the cabbage leaves
You need a large white cabbage or a savoy cabbage or I have now started using sweetheart cabbage – you might need 2 of these as they are not usually so large.
Patience is called for here to avoid getting scalded fingers. You have to heat or steam the cabbage to make the leaves pliable so you can remove them one by one and use them to encase the filling.
You need the largest pan you have into which you place the cabbage head.
I boil some water in a kettle and pour this over the cabbage in the pan. With some heat under the pan I let the cabbage cook a little. The temptation is to boil too quickly so making some of the leave too soft and runs the risk of getting scalded as you try to remove the leaves.
Another method is to place the cabbage into a metal colander and set this over the pan of water so that it is steamed rather than boiled – I think this method is the one I like best.
As the leaves become soft, you have to cut them off from the stalk and stack them up for to use later, you can cut out the thickest part of the stalk from the first few larger leaves. Pre heat the oven to GM3 – 160oC
Fill the leaves with the rice & mushroom mix and roll them up from the stalk end, tuck in the sides and secure with the outer edge of the leaf to make a small parcel.
Place the rolls into a large casserole dish, packing as many rolls as possible in rows in the dish. Depending on the depth of the dish repeat this for another layer.
If you have any extra cabbage leaves place these on the base of the dish and then to put extra leaves on the top of the rolls.
The rolls sometimes have a habit of getting slightly burnt on the top as they come out of the liquid and sometimes at the base if they have been in the oven a long time, these extra layers protect the rolls and can be discarded at the end.
Make a vegetable stock and pour this over the cabbage rolls.
Ingredients for Vegetable Stock
Vegetable stock – I like to use the Swiss Marigold Bouillon vegetable stock powder which is in a tub mixed with boiling water
1 tube of tomato purée
2 bay leaves
3 or 4 peppercorns or allspice or both.
salt & pepper ( note there might be enough salt in the stock cube)
Mix up the stock powder in a jug with boiling water, add the tomato purée and then the rest of the ingredients. You need a large amount to cover the cabbage rolls.
Pre heat the oven to GM3 – 160oC
Cover the rolls with this liquid. It is a good idea to have extra which you can use to top up as they are cooking.
Cover with a lid and place in the oven and cook for several hours. Check them occasionally and keep them covered with liquid as much as possible.
As mentioned earlier I make these a day beforehand and then put them back in the oven for an hour or so before serving.
They are a complete meal in themselves but you can give serve them with some bread to mop up all the liquid sauce.
Wigilia – Christmas Eve
I will be writing a post all about the special meal on this day later when all the dishes are meatless.
This recipe is one dish which can be served then.