Thursday, February 13, 2014

Halupki (Cabbage Rolls)

I've been thinking about trying this for some time now, but finally got around to it this week. Very appropriately, on the evening of the opening ceremonies in Sochi! Cabbage rolls are a staple of many eastern European countries, including Russia. As such, this recipe comes at me from both sides, from the Ukrainian blood on my Mom's side and the Polish blood on my Dad's. Known as Golabki in Poland and Holubtsi in Ukraine, I'm not sure why we refer to them as Halupki (which is Slovak) or "Pigs in a Blanket" since they never contained pork. Our family's recipe traditionally combined ground beef with rice for the filling and topped the rolls with ketchup. Given the success I had substituting lentils for ground beef in my lentil loaf, I tried the same substitution here and found tasty success!

Halupki (Cabbage Rolls)

For the filling:
2c dried red lentils
1c dry brown rice
1/2c diced onions
3 gloves garlic, minced
sage and black pepper to taste
1T + 1T vegemite
1T liquid smoke

To wrap:
1 head green cabbage

For the sauce:
1 6oz can tomato paste
2c water
1T liquid smoke
1T molasses
1t sirracha
garlic and black pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Cook 1c brown rice according to directions on the package.
3. Cook lentils, adding 1T vegemite to the cooking water for flavor.
4. Cut off bottom and remove core of the head of cabbage. Place on a shallow dish with water and microwave for 5- 12 minutes, until cabbage is soft. (My microwave is dying, so I'm not sure of a "normal" time. Start at the low end and regularly check your cabbage for progress.) Alternatively, you can boil the cabbage leaves. I think this is done by boiling a pot of water and then placing a leaf in there for a few minutes, until it is tender.
5. Mix all of the tomato sauce ingredients, seasoning to taste. Set aside.
6. Mix cooked rice, lentils, and remaining filling ingredients in a large bowl.
7. Peel off a cabbage leaf. Place ~1/3c filling in the middle and wrap. A toothpick can be used to hold it together, but I just put mine directly in the baking pan with the folded side down.
8. Pour tomato sauce over the cabbage rolls and bake for 30- 40 minutes.
9. Enjoy with additional tomato sauce or ketchup. They are hearty so keep very well in the freezer! This recipe will yield 12 rolls, which is enough for 4- 5 adults or a dinner and a week of leftovers.

All the little pigeons ready to go in the oven! As a hint, the whiter inner leafs end up giving more tender rolls. In the future, I'd save the outermost green leaves for another recipe.

1 comment:

  1. An update from my Mom on cooking the cabbage sans microwave: "Just a note you don't boil the cabbage leaves, You place the head of cabbage, with the core removed, in a large pot of water and steam it. Remove the leaves as you go so the outer leaves do not get overly soft while the inner leaves do not get soft at all." Thanks, Mom!