The Best Parts of Stuffed Cabbage, Minus the Work


Classic stuffed cabbage recipes can take many forms, and none are easy.

Whether it’s the sweet and sour cabbage rolls of my Eastern European ancestors or a meaty French stuffed cabbage, traditional stuffed cabbage is a labor of love: dishes I’m delighted to meet but that I rarely think of doing myself.

Not so this recipe, which is a variation of a different order. Working minutes rather than hours, it’s a rustic riff that’s sharp and crunchy, deeply flavorful and maybe even a little sexy (for cabbage, that is).

The secret is in his simplified stuffing technique.

Standard recipes call for separating individual cabbage leaves, blanching them, rolling them around a filling, then cooking them again. Here, a tangy stuffing is massaged into the lacy crevices of raw cabbage that has been quartered. Then the whole thing is roasted until the top burns, while the underside crumbles into something silky and sweet.

The filling, consisting of umami-rich anchovies and Parmesan cheese with chopped walnuts for the body, infuses every bite. But the relationship between cabbage and stuffing falls firmly on the side of cabbage. For avid vegetable fans like me, this is just the thing.

Once you master the basic method, the filling is easy to adapt. You can swap any other nut — or even cooked grains like rice or farro — for walnuts. Other grated or crumbly hard cheeses will work in place of Parmesan; feta is on my list to try.

As for the anchovies, those divisive little flavor bombs, they can be substituted with anything tangy and salty for the needed zing. Try chopped capers, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, or even a few tablespoons of canned tuna flakes.

Just be sure to be generous with the olive oil. It helps the cabbage wedges turn golden brown and carries the flavors of the filling so the cabbage leaves can absorb it well.

You can serve it as a relatively light, meatless main dish with noodles, rice or crusty bread. Or pair it with roast chicken or fish for a hearty side dish. While it’s best hot and crispy from the oven, it’s almost as good at room temperature or even cold from the fridge if you have any left over – making that easy dinner an even easier lunch the next day.

Recipe: Roasted cabbage with parmesan, walnuts and anchovies

Roasted or sautéed cabbage can usually be accompanied by white or red. But the added elements to this recipe – anchovies, walnuts and parmesan cheese – plead for a white with lively acidity. This category is often a default wine for zesty, umami-rich dishes because they are so versatile. The options are many. Italian whites like Etna Biancos from Sicily, Trebbiano from Abruzzos, pecorinos and verdicchios would be delicious. Many French whites would also do the trick, like village Chablis, Sancerre and other Sauvignon Blancs from the Loire. You can also try Sauvignon Blancs from elsewhere, as long as they are rather restrained. You can also drink a range of dry sparkling wines with this dish, as well as dry rosés. If you want a red, consider an inexpensive barbera or a juicy, refreshing país from Chile. ERIC ASIMOV


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