Okay, vegetarians (vegans too)! Here's a Thanksgiving entrée that even turkey lovers will want to fork into. If you plan ahead (for example, make the cornbread a few days in advance) all will go smoothly.
1 large head green cabbage
2 tablespoons olive oil
Up to 1 tablespoon butter (optional)
1 1/2 cups minced onion
Heaping 1/4 teaspoon rubbed sage
Big pinch dried thyme
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
Up to 1 teaspoon salt
1 stalk celery, minced
1 small (or 1/2 a medium) sweet bell pepper, minced
1 teaspoon minced or crushed garlic
1 batch Buttermilk Cornbread (5-6 cups crumbled)
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Black pepper to taste
Cayenne to taste (optional)
1 batch Everyone's Mushroom Gravy
1. Core the cabbage (carefully, with a strong knife) and place it, core side-down, in large soup pot. Fill halfway with water, heat to boiling, then lower the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the cabbage leaves pull off easily and are supple enough to roll without breaking. (You might have to experiment with one or two to determine when it is ready.) Then remove the head of cabbage, drain well in a colander, and set aside.
2. Place a large, deep skillet over medium heat and wait about a minute, then add the olive oil and swirl to coat the pan. You can melt in some butter, for flavor, if you like.) Add the onion, sage, thyme, paprika, and about 1/4 teaspoon salt, and sauté over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until the onions become translucent.
3. Toss in the celery, bell pepper, garlic, and another 1/2 teaspoon or so of salt, and continue to cook over medium heat, stirring intermittently for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the celery is very tender and everything is well mingled. (You can splash in a little water and cover the pan to help things soften.)
4. Turn off the heat, and crumble in the corn bread. Mix until it is completely coated with the sautéed mixture, then add lemon juice, black pepper, extra salt, and possibly some cayenne to taste.
5. Break off the cabbage leaves one at a time. Place about 3-4 tablespoons stuffing at the core end, and roll toward the tip, tucking in the sides. Arrange the cabbage rolls in a 9 x 13-inch baking pan in rows, touching. You'll get about 12 rolls, which should fit snugly in the pan. At this point, the recipe can wait for several hours (covered and at room temperature) before being heated and served.
6. About 45 minutes before servings time, preheat oven to 350°F. Ladle some of the gravy over the rolls -- enough to moisten. Cover the pan with foil and bake for about 30 minutes, or until the rolls are heated through. Serve hot or just very warm (perfectly fine), passing a gravy boat with the remaining gravy (hot), so people can help themselves to extra, if desired.
Copyright Tante Malka, Inc. By Mollie Katzen, author of The Heart of the Plate
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