I’ve been attracted to deep colored vegetables lately. I guess I’m ready for Spring, a fresh morning breeze, blossoms on the trees and the sight of new life with all its colorful wonder everywhere. It’s been a long cold winter and I have cabin fever AND I live in the South!! Several years ago, I lived in Vail, Colorado and just loved it. I guess it’s not the cold that I mind, it’s the fact that it’s just cold, no snow, no fun activities outdoors, it’s just frigid cold!
Today I saw this bright purple cabbage at the market that was just begging to be transformed. I immediately thought of a traditional stuffed cabbage dish that my mom used to make for us. Although she always used the regular pale green cabbage. The leaves were stuffed with a mixture of rice, tomatoes, and ground beef with spices and served with sesame paste dressing. It’s a popular dish and it’s very flavorful. However, today I wanted something fresh and tangy, and also vibrant. I used quinoa instead of rice because of the high nutritional value and paired it with sweet corn and baby carrots.
If you’ve never rolled cabbage leaves, you should. They look great once cooked, makes for a nice presentation and teaches you patience! Yes, it’s a bit challenging, but also fun if you enjoy playing with food. So, here’s a major tip for those of you who will attempt this for the first time (it only takes one time and you’ll crack the rolled cabbage code too): Boil the cabbage whole and start peeling the leaves as they soften and become flexible enough to roll with no resistance. The core takes more boiling time. My suggestion is to submerge the entire head in simmering water, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Using tongues, remove the head from the water (keep water on heat), gently peel away as many softened leaves as you find. Once you notice resistance, return remainder back to simmering water and repeat process until you have enough leaves or you get bored, whichever comes first. Cut alongside the rib and each softened leave will yield at least two rolled pieces.
While the cabbage in under water, prepare the stuffing. Soak the quinoa grains for about 5 minutes, discard water then rinse under running water and let dry for a few minutes. Finely dice the carrots, mince the garlic and chop the parsley. Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl, adding fresh corn, lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper.
To assemble, simply place about a tablespoon of the stuffing mixture in the middle of the leave and roll parallel to the veins (important tip to eliminate resistance). No need to tuck in the ends. As you roll, line the bottom of a narrow deep pot with the rolls, tightly packed. Once first layer is complete, start another placing the rolled cabbage perpendicularly to the previous layer (important tip to prevent the rolls from getting loose). Once all leaves are rolled, cover the rolls with just enough water to simply submerge the top layer, juice of half a lemon and a teaspoon of salt. Cover pot, bring to a simmer for approximately 20 minutes. Turn off heat and let cool to luke warm. Remove rolls and serve at room temperature with vinaigrette below.
Prepare the dressing by mincing shallots, soaking them in the vinegar for 10 minutes. Add mustard, salt and pepper. Whisk grapeseed oil in. Add minced parsley and goat cheese. Drizzle over the cabbage to your liking.
Quinoa-stuffed Red Cabbage Salad
1 head red cabbage
For the Stuffing:
1/2 cup quinoa
1/4 cup baby carrots, fine dice
1/4 cup fresh corn kernels
2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tsp garlic, minced
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
For the Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
2 tbsp Sherry vinegar
2 tbsp shallots, minced
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp sea salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Crumbles to goat cheese to taste (about 1/4 cup) (optional)