Thursday, February 28, 2013
Slovenian Dinner Week 47: Stuffed Cabbage Low Carb Makeover: Beef-Cauliflower Filling
Stuffed Cabbage Makeover: Beef-Cauliflower Filling
Stuffed cabbage was the first dish I tackled, back in January of 2012, when I launched my year of Slovenian cooking. I was happy with the result. The next time, I planned to make the filling more highly seasoned—and to cook the cabbage rolls on a bed of sauerkraut.
Suddenly, it was December. My year of ethnic cooking was in the home stretch, and I still hadn’t gotten around to trying stuffed cabbage again. But now I had another agenda: how to do healthy makeovers.
For a healthy version of stuffed cabbage, I figured on skipping the pork and using just beef. But what to do about the added starch in the filling? I could substitute buckwheat for the rice, as I’d done with my stuffed peppers makeover. But this time I wanted to go even lower carb.
So I did an Internet search and discovered a fascinating alternative to rice: finely diced cauliflower. I found plenty of examples, including two or three recipes for meat fillings with cauliflower instead of the usual rice or bread crumbs. What an intriguing idea! I already knew that pureed cauliflower worked well as a mashed potato substitute, but I'd never come across the idea of using it in place of rice.
The recipes I found used used raw cauliflower, chopped or grated, in the meat filling. I figured I would go one better. I would brown the cauliflower bits with the onions and garlic, to reduce some of the moisture and make it harder and more rice-like.
I made a few other changes in my original stuffed cabbage recipe. To make the filling spicier, I increased the onion, garlic, salt, pepper, and paprika. I decided to skip the fresh mint and the spoonful of crushed tomatoes. As planned, I used sauerkraut instead of cabbage to line the pan. Finally, I decided to make the dish in the oven instead of on top of the stove.
For the result, read on.
Stuffed Cabbage Makeover with Beef-Cauliflower Filling
1 c. onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T. olive oil
1 c. cauliflower florets, finely chopped
2 t. salt
1 t. pepper
1-1/2 t. paprika
1/2 c. fresh parsley, chopped
1-1/2 lb.ground beef
1 egg, beaten
1 large head green cabbage
beef broth and crushed tomatoes, mixed, to make about 3 cups of liquid
salt and pepper to taste
For filling: Brown onion and garlic in oil. Add cauliflower florets and brown, then add seasonings, parsley and mix. Let cool. Mix in beef and egg.
For cabbage: Cut out core of cabbage. Cover in hot water and boil for about 5 minutes. Drain and separate leaves.
To make the rolls: Cut out the tough rib of each cabbage leaf. Place a portion of meat on the leaf. Roll up securely, envelope style. Secure with toothpicks.
Put a layer of sauerkraut in the bottom of large greased oven-proof dish. Put cabbage rolls on top, packing tightly. Add liquid, almost to cover. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 1 hour.
The verdict: Pretty good. The filling was still a little mild. Next time, I will go back to using tomatoes and maybe the mint, as I did originally. And I might add some seasoning to the tomato sauce, too. No, cauliflower does not provide the same firm texture as using rice—or for, that matter, buckwheat groats. But it is a viable alternative when you are cutting carbs.
Who says Slovenian food can't be healthy?