Spatula Diaries: Cabbage rolls for a prosperous New Year

Lots of people make cabbage rolls for New Year’s Day, but what if you doozied up the common version of ground beef and rice for something a little more nuanced?

Cabbage rolls can be as versatile as you want to make them, and in this case, I made a filling of Iverstine Farms ground pork, whole grains, aromatic vegetables, turmeric (an earthy, assertive dry seasoning known for its anti-inflammatory benefits) and other seasonings.

The basic principle is some kind of meat-to-grain combination, and from there, the choice is yours. Another nice thing about this dish is that it’s a great way to use local cabbage.

Here’s how:

Cabbage rolls with ground pork and whole grains

Makes 12 rolls

For the prepared cabbage leaves
12 cabbage leaves

Prepare the cabbage leaves by removing the core of a whole cabbage and boiling the entire head in a large pot for about 5 minutes. Remove cabbage from pot. When cool enough to handle, use tongs to carefully peel off the whole outer leaves. They should come off easily. On each leaf, remove the hard stem with a small knife. Set aside the leaves and prepare filling. The remaining cabbage is perfect for steaming or smothering. You can even add it to your cabbage roll filling.

For the filling
1 pound ground pork
1 large egg
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
½ cup breadcrumbs
½ cup uncooked whole grains mix (or use uncooked quinoa, bulgur, barley or rice)
1 teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon salt
Fresh ground black pepper

Prepare filing by combining the above ingredients in a medium bowl and mixing with your hands until combined.

For the sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Fresh ground black pepper

Add oil to a heavy saucepan and heat to medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper. Simmer for about 12-15 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

For the rolls
Take each leaf and spoon about ¼ cup of the filling onto the leaf, tucking in the sides first and then rolling it up in a bundle. In a 9×12 glass casserole dish, spoon enough sauce to cover the bottom. Place the assembled cabbage rolls onto the sauce. Cover with the remaining sauce. Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake for about an hour, until the meat is fully cooked.

Maggie Heyn Richardson is a regular 225 contributor and the author of Hungry for Louisiana, An Omnivore’s Journey. Reach her at hungryforlouisiana.com.