Eggplant Stuffed Cabbage with Parsley-Cilantro Walnut Pesto

Cabbage

This vegetarian version of traditional “pigs-in-a-blanket” stuffed cabbage is a knockout when paired with the fresh flavors of parsley and cilantro.

The challenge? To make a vegetarian stuffed cabbage that’s absolutely delicious. Mission accomplished with the help of Chef Andrea Dante from Mad Gourmet in Guilford CT who inspired me to turn her vegetarian eggplant “meatless” meatball mix into the filling for this dish.

The pesto is the taste kicker which adds a punch of color cabbage dishes usually lack.  Make it vegan by omitting the egg, rolling the cabbage leaves a bit tighter to hold the filling. Enjoy!

Eggplant Stuffed Cabbage
2 eggplants, peeled
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1 egg, beaten
Pinch red pepper flakes
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
1 cup gluten-free or panko breadcrumbs
2 Tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot
1 head green cabbage

Peel and slice eggplant into 1/4 inch rounds. Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and grill 2-3 minutes on each side, until soft but not mushy, being careful not to over-char. Eggplant can be grilled in a grill pan instead.  In a food processor, pulse eggplant with garlic, tomato paste, shallot and egg. Put mixture in a mixing bowl and add cornstarch, rice and bread crumbs. Let rest for 20 minutes to allow the moisture to be soaked up.

Fill enough water in a stock pot to cover the whole cabbage and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, peel off outer cabbage leaves and core the cabbage to remove the middle stem. Immerse cabbage in boiling water for 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of the cabbage, or until leaves are tender but firm throughout.

Separate cabbage leaves and unfold flat. Place enough eggplant mixture to roll up in cabbage leaves being mindful not to overstuff. Continue rolling up eggplant mixture in each cabbage leaf. Place stuffed cabbage in pyrex dish with 1/4 to 1/2 inch of vegetable broth and cover. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until filling is hot.

Parsley-Cilantro Walnut Pesto
1 cup walnuts
2 cups parsley
1/2 cup cilantro
3 gloves garlic
1/2 to 1 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cups extra virgin olive oil, plus more if needed

Remove any thick stems from parsley and cilantro.  Place all ingredients except oil in a food processor pulsing until parsley and cilantro are blended but not finely chopped. With the food processor on, drizzle olive oil in a steady stream until desired consistency (I prefer this pesto to be coarsely pureed). Dollop parsley pesto on top of stuffed cabbage and serve.

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Spring Green Pea Soup

PeaSoup

Green as the Emerald Isle, this pea soup laced with tarragon is perfect for a spring day when you still want to warm up but with lighter fare.

This soup is like a bowl full of spring …. green and garden fresh!  But you don’t have to wait until your garden produces a bumper crop as flash frozen organic peas are readily available in your grocery store. If you can’t find sugar snap peas, substitute with more organic peas.

2 onions, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
5 cups vegetable broth
salt and white pepper to taste
1 16 ounce package organic frozen peas
8 ounces sugar snap peas, strings removed
1 Tablespoon fresh tarragon, chopped

Saute onion and celery in EVOO in a medium stock pot until softened but not browned, approximately 5 minutes. Add vegetable broth and salt and pepper. Cover and simmer 10 minutes.

In a separate pot, blanch sugar snap peas in boiling water for 1 minute. Drain and immerse into a ice water bath to preserve the green color. Boil peas for one minute, drain and add to the ice bath. Remove all peas from the ice bath and puree in a high speed blender. Push soup through a sieve to remove any remaining strings from the sugar snap peas. Serve with chopped parsley and chives on top if going vegan, or with a dollop of creme fraiche and applewood smoked uncured crumbled bacon for added flavor.  May be served hot or cold.

Curry Lentil Stew with Roasted Sweet Potatoes

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Sprinkle with fresh cilantro and keep this lentil stew vegan. Or add a dollop of yogurt to top it off — try super creamy sheep’s yogurt fresh from the farm.

Thicker than soup, this lentil stew spiced with curry, ginger, cinnamon, cumin and mustard seeds was the perfect one dish entree for our Feeding Your Soul group on a cold winter’s day.

Serve over basmati rice or quinoa with toasted pumpkin seeds for a vegan-vegetarian delight!

1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons ginger, minced
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1-2 tablespoons curry powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 plum tomatoes, chopped
2 zucchini, cut into 1 inch rounds and then quartered
7 cups vegetable stock
1 pound lentils
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in 1/2 inch cubes
13 ounces organic coconut milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss sweet potatoes cubes in 3 tablespoons of olive oil and roast on a cookie sheet for approximately 20 minutes or until soft but still firm and starting to caramelize on the edges. In a heavy stock pot, sauté onions, ginger, garlic in 1/4 cup olive oil on medium-high heat until onions are almost translucent. Mix in mustard seeds and spices. Add tomatoes, zucchini, stock and lentils. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes or until lentils are softened but not mushy. Add sweet potatoes and coconut milk to the stew and stir a few minutes over medium heat until incorporated. Top off with fresh chopped cilantro.

Adapted from Bon Appetit’s Vegetarian Lentil Stew recipe, Sept 1998.