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Stuffed Cabbage Rolls for St. Patrick’s Day

Mar 13, 2019

With St. Patrick’s Day approaching, I started thinking about all the green food I truly enjoy and my mind came to kålruletter or stuffed cabbage leaves which is a classic Norwegian dish. Typically they are stuffed with ground pork, but since pigs are my friends, not food, I choose to stuff the cabbage with delicious lentils, rice, shallots, walnuts, and spices instead. The result is amazing!  All the different flavors and textures make every bite of these cabbage rolls exciting, while knowing what you are eating is also nutritious, packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Cabbage has been widely planted all over Norway or centuries. Cabbage gardens were mentioned in Bergen and Stavanger in the mid 16th century. In a seed order from around 1660 cauliflower, red, white and savoy cabbage are mentioned.

Today, cabbage is served in many different classic meals in Norway, among others stewed cabbage which is served with kjøttkaker (meatballs) and one of two main ingredients in Norway’s national dish, fårikål (still trying to veganize this dish as it is made with mutton). Cabbage is also often added to soups and stews such as brennsnut and lapskaus, Sauerkraut (surkål) is another staple in the Norwegian diet, much like in Germany and is present on the majority of dinner plates on Christmas Eve.

There are also similarities between Norwegian and Irish cuisine; we both love potatoes, and of course: cabbage! Hence there was nothing more fitting than posting my recipe for kålruletter this week. Not only are they delicious but quite pretty to look at as well, and you will look like a real pro serving these for your friends and/or family. Since they are the main attraction, all they really need is some boiled potatoes, and if you’d like, a creamy white sauce to pull the flavors and textures all together.

I’ve served these to non-vegan Norwegian friends who weren’t crazy about the traditional version and they have gobbled up every last bite of these! While it may seem a bit of work, they are absolutely worth it! You can delete the white sauce if you don’t want to bother with that, and just serve with melted (vegan) butter and boiled potatoes and it’s just as tasty!

I paired my kålruletter with a nice glass of German Riesling, but I won’t blame you if you pull out the Guinness and embrace the Irish in you—maybe with a schnapps of aquavit??

Norwegian Kålruletter (Stuffed Cabbage Leaves)

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ (1.25 dl)  cup brown rice, picked over and rinsed
1/2 (1.25 dl) cup green lentils, picked over and rinsed
3-4 shallots, sliced thin
2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/3 cup (80 ml) vegetable stock
1/2 (1.25 dl) cup rolled oats
1/2 cup (1.25dl) toasted walnuts, chopped
1 head of Savoy cabbage, whole leaves picked apart
1 cup (2.5 dl) vegetable broth

Directions:
Oil an ovenproof dish that will fit 8 to 10 rolled up cabbage leaves and set aside. Preheat oven to 400° Fahrenheit (200° Celcius).

Rinse the rice and the lentils separately. In two different small pots, cook the rice/lentils with 1 1/2 cups (3.75dl) of water each for about 15-20 minutes until done. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat, add shallots, garlic, and bell peppers and season with salt. Saute for 5-7 minutes, then add nutmeg and paprika, saute for another 30-40 seconds until fragrant. Add the rolled oats and toasted walnuts, and saute for another minute.

Add the lentils, rice, and onion mixture in a food processor along with the 1/3 cup (80ml) of veg stock and pulse a few times until a rough farce is formed. Place in a bowl and place in the fridge while you prepare the cabbage leaves.

In a large pot, bring a generous amount of salted water to a bowl, and place the separated cabbage leaves in the water, and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes, until just starting to soften. Be careful not to overcook, as you want the vibrant color of the cabbage to remain. Scoop the leaves out of the water and place on clean dish towels so the water dries off.

Place one big spoon of the lentil rice filling into each cabbage leaf, and roll up like a spring roll.

Place the stuffed roll with the seam down into the prepared ovenproof dish. Fill with the vegetable broth, it should only cover the bottom of the pan.

Bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, the cabbage rolls should be golden brown on top.

Bechamel Sauce

1/2 cup (1 stick or 8 tbsp) vegan butter
1/3 cup (43g) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (1.25dl) nutritional yeast
3 cups (7.5dl) plant-based milk (I used almond milk)
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tbsp lemon juice

Heat the vegan butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until melted. Add the all-purpose flour and whisk. Allow to cook, whisking frequently, for a few minutes until a roux is formed. Make sure it does not darken, as we are making a white, not brown gravy!

Add the milk, nutritional yeast, salt, Dijon mustard, and garlic powder and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for a few minutes until sauce is nicely thickened to the consistency of cheese sauce. Add the lemon juice and stir. If too thick, add some more nondairy milk.

Serve the baked kålruletter with the baked potatoes and drizzle over some of the béchamel sauce.

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