I have tried kindness. I have tried garlic oil spray and planting early and planting late, and I think you should know that this year I MEAN BUSINESS. You will not devour my Brussels sprouts; you will not attack my cabbage. Most of all you will not eat holes in my dinosaur kale, because that lacinato stuff is precious. I will have perfect kale and perfect broccoli and I will grow Savoy cabbage. I will grow tiny perfect heads, heads that swirl and bump like this.
I will make my favorite dishes, sautéed cabbage in butter. Raw kale salad. Raw Brussels sprouts with grated Pecorino and lemon juice. And I will have so much cabbage—so many perfect heads—that I will also make Marion Cunningham's Stuffed Cabbage Rolls.
That's all there is too it, that's all there is.
STUFFED CABBAGE ROLLS
When I was a kid, my mom worked at a boys camp as the cook for a few summers. One of the specialties was a dish called Kababa Burgers—basically a big cabbage leaf with all sorts of goodies like ground beef and carrots and mozzarella cheese rolled in. Marion's dish is a more grown-up version of what I fell for as a kid. This recipe serves 4-6, and is nice alongside a toasted slice of homemade rye bread.
1 large head Savoy cabbage, halved and cored
3 tablespoons pastured butter
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 cups tomato sauce, preferably homemade
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon ground allspice
sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1 and 1/2 cups cooked rice, farro, or oat groats
1 pound grass-fed ground beef
thick whole milk yogurt or sour cream, for serving
applesauce, preferably homemade, for serving
Grease a 13" by 9" baking dish and set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the cabbage, cover, and cook gently for 4-5 minutes. Drain the water and set the cabbage aside.
In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute, then add the tomato sauce, water, allspice, salt, and pepper. Turn the heat down as low as it goes and let the sauce simmer for about 15 minutes, until it thickens. (It should be thick, Marion says, but not so thick that it "plops" when poured from a spoon.)
Peel off the tough outer leaves from the cabbage and set them aside. Peel off 12 more leaves, and reserve these for the rolls. Chop up the remaining cabbage and spread it over the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle it with the sugar, then season with salt and pepper.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Combine about 3/4 of the sauce with the rice, farro, or oat groats (I used farro) and the beef. Mix well. Use a spoon to divide the filling evenly between the 12 cabbage leaves, scooping it into the center. Start from the stem end of the leaves and roll them, tucking in the side edges. Place them seam-side down on the chopped cabbage mixture. Spoon a little bit of the sauce over top, then layer on the outermost leaves that you set aside to cover the whole thing up. Bake for about an hour, then put the top leaves in the compost and serve with yogurt and warm applesauce.