August 12, 2013 by Meg G.
This recipe is, in a word, fabulous. I’m not bragging, I’m just being honest. (Plus, Deb over at Smitten Kitchen gets all the props.)
If you’ve been reading along with us, you know that we’ve been overrun with cabbage in our CSA bag. We’ve had some great success so far, including grilled cabbage, kale and cabbage gratin, and some dumplings. This dish has a decidedly more autumnal feel to it, but it is perfect for our current uncharacteristically cool evenings up here in New England.
While this recipe includes several steps and a lengthy cooking-time, it’s not a difficult one, particularly if you’ve got some ready-made veggie sausages in the freezer. The presentation will make you look like a James Beard winner, but even a novice home cook can make these lovely little edible purses. Ready? Here goes!
Cabbage Purses stuffed with Italian Sausage – adapted from Smitten Kitchen
- 1 green cabbage
- roughly 7 oz of a hunk of bread (we used regular ol’ wheat sandwich bread), crusts cut away, torn into small scraps (about 3 loose cups of scraps)
- 2/3 cup almond milk
- 3 vegan Italian sausages, chopped/crumbled
- small handful of fresh sage, finely chopped (or about a teaspoon of dried)
- small handful of fresh rosemary, finely chopped (or about a teaspoon of dried)
- 2 tablespoons grated parmesan (leave out to veganize)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 28-ounce can peeled plum tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
- Prep the cabbage: Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Peel about 12 large leaves from the cabbage, or cut off the end and allow the leaves to fall apart. Blanch the leaves for about 1 to 2 minutes, a few at a time, until wilted. Spread out on a clean dishtowel to dry and cool.
- Prep the filling: Place your bread scraps in bottom of large bowl and pour milk over. Let them sit for a few minutes, then mash gently with a spoon until something close to a paste forms. Mix in the sausage meat, herbs, parmesan (if using), and a pinch or two of salt and black pepper.
- Assemble the purses: Lay your first cabbage leaf on the counter. If it doesn’t easily lay flat, pare away some of the thickest stalk with a paring knife. Mound together a golf ball-sized round of filling and place it in the center of the cabbage leaf. Wrap the leaf around the filling by folding in the sides and then folding the ends over top. Insert a toothpick in the top to hold it together. Repeat with remaining leaves and mixture.
- Make the sauce: To prepare your tomatoes, break them up however you prefer – with your hands, in a food mill, or roughly chop them right in their can with scissors (what we did). In a heavy sauté pan with a lid, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds (just until golden) then add the tomatoes, bringing the sauce to a gentle boil. Season with salt if needed.
- Cook the cabbages: Add cabbage purses, arranging them carefully in the pan so they all fit, cover the pot and gently simmer them for 25 minutes. Remove the toothpicks and carefully turn the rolls over, cooking them for another 25 minutes. Remove the lid and simmer for another 10 minutes to cook off some of the liquid.
A few notes on cooking times:
Deb’s original recipe called for Napa cabbage. Since we used green cabbage, we blanched them about a minute longer. If you use Napa cabbage, it only needs about 30 seconds -1 minute.
If you’re using vegan sausage, I’m pretty sure you could cut down the cooking time by at least 5 minutes on each side, since you’re not worrying about undercooked meat. Just make sure that the cabbage cooks long enough to become tender and translucent.
Deb recommends that you let the purses rest for another 15 minutes before eating them, so the flavors settle. As you can imagine, after 60 minutes of simmering, we were ready to eat! But if you have the time, I’m sure it does improve the flavor.
This is definitely a company-worthy dish. The flavor is fabulous (helped along by the well-seasoned sausages) and you’ll feel super fancy presenting your guests with such pretty little purses. Enjoy!