This recipe calls for quick wild rice, but 3-4 cups of slow-cooked wild rice would
also work. Make sure you’re using only wild rice, not a flavored pilaf mix with wild rice sprinkled in. The nutty taste and chewy, crunchy texture of true wild rice make it worth hunting the shelves for the real thing.
If you can’t easily peel off enough cabbage leaves, steaming the whole cabbage will loosen them up. Remove the core so that steam can get up into the cabbage, then place the whole thing in a large pot with about an inch of boiling water and steam for 3-4 minutes. If you do rip the leaves as you peel them away, don’t worry. You’ll be folding them over themselves, so small tears won’t matter. You’re just trying to contain the rice and vegetables, not win a cabbage beauty contest.
This recipe makes a ton, perfect for feeding your big Irish family. The rice mixture is delicious on its own, so if you have some left over use it as a side dish.
Wild Rice Stuffed Cabbage
1 cup quick wild rice
2 1/3 cups water
1 bay leaf
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic (2-4 cloves)
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
4 cups sliced leeks (3 large)
2 teaspoons Italian herbs
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 teaspoon red pepper flakes
18 large green cabbage leaves
4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2- 28-ounce cans chopped tomatoes, drained
1 teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Boil the water in a medium pot. Stir in the wild rice and bay leaf. Cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 25-30 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed. Remove the rice from heat and let sit 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and remove the bay leaf.
Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Sauté the garlic, carrots, celery, and leeks for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the Italian herbs, fennel, salt, pepper, and red pepper. Sauté another 5 minutes. Stir in the cooked wild rice.
Place the cabbage leaves in a steamer over boiling water. Steam for 3 minutes, until the leaves are bright green and soft. Rinse them with cool water so they can be handled.
Scoop ¼ cup of the rice mixture onto the stem end of each cabbage leaf. Fold the sides of the cabbage leaf around the rice, then roll the leaf up like a little green tortilla. Place the rolls in a single layer in a steamer and steam for 30 minutes. Depending on the size of your steamer, you may have to do this in two batches.
While the cabbage rolls steam, prepare the tomato sauce. Sauté the garlic in olive oil over medium heat until it becomes fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, basil, salt, and black pepper. Lower the heat and simmer 15 minutes, breaking tomatoes apart with the back of the spoon. Purée if desired.
Spoon tomato sauce over the cabbage rolls and serve.
Makes 18 cabbage rolls, serves 6-8.
Roasted Fingerling Potatoes
4-5 fingerling potatoes per serving
Freshly ground pepper
Rinse the potatoes. Toss them with olive oil, salt, and freshly ground pepper. Roast on a cookie sheet at 425° for 30 minutes, or until they are easily pierced with a fork.