Rethinking Leftovers

If you're like me, I often start thinking about dinner less than an hour before I want it on the table. This night was one of those nights. I opened the fridge and there were "leftover" curried mashed potatoes, some cooked black rice, some carrot and celery sticks my wife likes to snack on and my 9 month likes to gnaw on when he's teething, and a head of napa cabbage. These can be considered random leftovers, but I'd like to look at them as a bunch of PREP that was already done for some fun stuffed cabbage.

Here's what you do:

Set a large pot filled with water to boil. This is your blanching water for the cabbage. 

First make the filling Dice the carrot and celery and sweat in some butter or olive oil over medium heat with a pinch of salt. When tender, add in the potatoes and black rice, about equal parts and mix everything together.  Add a little water if the mixture is try. Taste for seasoning and adjust. Feel free to get creative here and raid your pantry of other additions. Raisins or other dried fruit, nuts, and or the spices of your choice. 

Create a sauce.  Use a shallow wide pan, ideally with a lid.  I sliced a couple cloves of garlic, sweat them in some olive oil, added a jar of diced tomatoes and let it simmer while I worked on the rest.

Now bang out the cabbage. Carefully peel off the layers, trying to keep them intact. Intermittently cut off some of the core to help you separate the leaves. The larger the leaf the easier they are to fill. 

Add salt to the boiling water and taste. It should taste like salty water, but not crazy salty. Salty like the sea is overkill. Set up a bowl of cold water with ice if you want. Now take the leaves and blanch them in the boiling water.  You want them to have give and be pliable, but keep their vibrant green. When ready, fish them out with a spider and shock them in the cold water to stop their cooking.  

Drain the leaves in a colander.

Now wrap it up. To fill, lay a leaf on a cutting board and cut off the thick, hard part. This creates a little upside down triangle at the base . Place some filling in the middle. Fold over the two points of the triangle and roll away from yourself, tucking in the sides. Don't overthink it. Just do what you have to to roll it like a burrito. 

Tuck all of the stuffed cabbage in the sauce and cover to simmer for 10 minutes or so, or until the cabbage is tender and all the flavors have come together. 

The lesson here.  Let's not call it leftovers. Let's call it prep.  Let's be honest. We have a lot of prep in our fridges at home. Let's use it! If you can't think of what to do message me. I'd love to help! 

Aran GoldsteinComment