Vegetarian Cabbage Parcels

Makes 4 servings (8 cabbage parcels)


1 medium savoy cabbage (about 1 1/2 pounds)
2/3 cup olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
3 1/2 ounces (100g) oyster mushrooms, finely chopped
2/3 cup medium-grain rice, such as Arborio
1/2 cup dried mushrooms soaked for 20 minutes in 1 cup very hot water, and then finely chopped
2/3 cup dry red wine
5 prunes cut into small pieces with scissors
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
2/3 cup grated hard myzithra, kefalotyri or pecorino Romano cheese
1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
4 scallions (white and most of the green parts), finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped dill
Freshly ground black pepper

Mushroom, Garlic and Yogurt Avgolemono sauce (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 375 ºF (200ºC).
Remove 8 outer leaves from the cabbage, and shred the remainder, discarding only the very thick stalks. Cook the leaves in a large pan of boiling salted water for about 3 minutes until tender. Drain and run under cold water then pat dry with kitchen paper. Cut out the hard base of the central stalk on each leaf and chop it.

Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a deep skillet or sauté pan and add the shallots, garlic and mushrooms. Cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring, until softened. Add the shredded cabbage and the chopped stocks, the rice, the soaked, dried mushrooms and their broth, along with the wine, the prunes, and the caraway seeds. Season with pepper flakes and cover the pan. Cook over gentle heat for 3 minutes, until the cabbage is tender. Stir in the cheese, the herbs and scallions, drizzle with the rest of the olive oil, taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and black pepper.
Place one leaf in each one of 8 ramekins, leaving it to hang all around. Divide the stuffing between the ramekins and turn in the ends of the leaves to cover the stuffing.

Place the ramekins in a deep pan, cover with parchment paper, and then with a double-layer of aluminum foil, gathering the papers around the ramekins, leaving room around them in the pan. Pour enough boiling water into the pan to come to about half-way up the sides of the ramekins, and place the pan in the preheated oven.

Bake for 45 minutes. Turn off the oven and crack open the door. Let the cabbage parcels cool in the oven for another 20 minutes, then take them out of the larger pan and place on a rack to cool completely. Turn the ramekins out and arrange the parcels onto a serving dish.
Cover and refrigerate for a few hours, or overnight.
Reheat in the microwave or over boiling water and serve with Mushroom, Garlic and Yogurt Avgolemono sauce (recipe follows).

Mushroom, Garlic, and Yogurt Avgolemono
Use the sauce for any kind of stuffed leaves –with meat or vegetarian— as well as with braised greens and other vegetables.

1/2 cup dried wild mushrooms
1 tablespoon wakame or any dried seaweed (optional)
1 1/2 cups very hot water
3 garlic cloves, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup white wine
2 large eggs
1/4 cup lemon juice, or more to taste
1 cup thick yogurt, preferably full-fat
2 tablespoons cornstarch
4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, or more, to taste

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a bowl soak for 20 minutes the mushrooms and seaweed, if using, in 1 1/2 cups very hot water. Drain, reserving the broth, and puree in the blender, together with the garlic.

In a saucepan warm the olive oil and briefly sauté the mashed mushrooms until the garlic starts to smell. Add the wine and the reserved broth, together with 1/2 cup water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, 3 tablespoons of the lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of water and the yogurt. In a small bowl, whisk the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons water and the remaining lemon juice, then whisk this into the egg mixture. Whisking constantly, slowly pour about 1 1/2 cups of the hot broth, 1/2 cup at a time, into the egg mixture.

Pour the egg mixture into the saucepan and simmer, stirring gently, until the sauce thickens and starts to boil. Taste and adjust the seasonings, adding salt, pepper and more lemon juice if you like.


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