I love Friday nights. Neeta is home for the weekend and we have 3 nights together. I definitely recommend the 4-3 week to all married couples. As my readers know, I get to sleep alone on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday nights. Not only do I get a better sleep, eat meat and watch all the sports I care to, I can also take two whole days to plan my meals in advance of the Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday wife "visit". Anyhow, it works for us. Stuffed Cabbage is one of those make ahead meals that always seems to be better when you prepare it in advance. I actually made this dish on Thursday, and had it ready to put in the oven when I heard the key in the door on Friday night.I make it vegetarian so it needs the extra day to pick up the flavors. I also make it with and without sauce. It's a great antipasti for company, or a main dish for us. If you look back over the last few posts, you see a lot of the meals I've been preparing use left overs and ingredients from the meal I cooked for Easter. This is no exception. Although I usually stuff my cabbage with abborio rice, this time I decided to use the faro I bought to make the Pizza Gran at Easter. Faro is a cereal grain that in Italy needs no fertilizer or pesticide due to its hardiness. It has a nutty taste and is similar to barley in texture. I guessed that it would mix well with the other ingredients I used and create a very nice stuffing. I soaked it in cold water in the morning. You could soak it overnight as well. Then, I drained it, covered it with fresh cold water and boiled it for about 30 minutes (till it was tender).
My first stuffing ingredient was mushrooms. I like to use them in all dishes that I would expect to find meat. I sauteed them till they browned and began to lose water, then added shallots and garlic to the pan.
Next, I added baby spinach to the mushrooms sauteing it till it was just wilted.
Did I mention the little bit of bell pepper I added to the mushrooms? Never a whole pepper; just enough to add a little color and texture. Here are all my ingredients being stirred into the faro. Looks good, no? Add an egg to hold it together and a nice helping of freshly grated parmigiana reggiano and you're ready to stuff.
I like savoy cabbage for its taste and texture. Cut away the core and carefully unwrap the leaves from the head. Boil in salted water for about 8 minutes. I do it in batches.
After boiling the leaves, you may find it necessary to remove the thick center vein on each leaf or trim them down at least. You place a blob (2 TBS or so = 1 blob) of stuffing in the middle of the trimmed leaf and neatly roll up the leaf tucking in the ends like a spring roll.It's a good idea to set up a work station for this operation. Lay the stuffed cabbages in a baking dish with a little tomato sauce on the bottom to prevent sticking. Then, more tomato sauce over the rolls and top with more grated cheese. When I do this dish without tomato sauce, I use stock, top the rolls with grated cheese and dot them with butter.