Monday, January 3, 2011

Weekend relaxing and new recipes

This weekend was perfect. Just restful enough, just workful enough, and I feel ready to combat the week!

Obviously, Lyra doesn't quite agree. She's crashed out with her face on the heating vent. Silly cat.

So, what did you do this holiday weekend? Was it filled with parties and festivities? Mine was very, very mellow. I accidentally scheduled some experiments on New Year's Eve and New Year's morning, so I couldn't really go out. The fiance tried to be a bad influence and told me to throw them out, but I'd sunk a week in preparation. I would feel so can thank me later, American taxpayers ;)

Other activities involved putting away the Christmas presents and cleaning up the living area. Check out my new plate:

Bright and cheerful. I have a minor obsession with non-matching dishware. This may seem strange, as most midwestern women spend their lives coveting beautiful china sets and sign up for entire name-brand, matching dishware for their weddings. I won't be doing that. I love, love, love unique plates and dishes. It is my personal goal to have no matching dishes in my entire cupboard.
Copyright Tobias Mann

How about this awesome piece of wall art? My brother is a photographer and gave me two framed pictures to decorate my apartment. One is of the aerial lift bridge in Duluth, MN (link is NOT the picture he took) and this one was taken at a local garden. It's perfect for my kitchen - bright and quirky!

Shameless plug - my brother has a HUGE portfolio with a variety of stills, artistic, scenic, and beautiful photos. If you'd like something for your wall, he might be able to help you out. Just leave a comment and I'll hook you up.

I also spent some time going through my stacks of cookbooks. I lend them out pretty frequently, so I couldn't find a few (Does anyone have my green vegetarian cookbook? If you have it and still want to borrow it, could I just get you to call me and read me a recipe from it? I have something specific in mind...). Either way, I have a considerable stack:

I have a hard time with new recipes - they seem like a lot of work and if I have to get special ingredients for them, I am even less motivated. I did find one in 'The Gradual Vegetarian' by Lisa Tracy (1985).

I really like cabbage rolls, but upon further inspection of the recipe, I decided that I liked the idea, not the recipe - too much cheese, not enough protein. I thoroughly revamped the recipe to my standards and here I present 'Almond-Lentil Cabbage Rolls'!

First, carefully peel the large leaves off of a medium size head of cabbage. Blanch for 2-3 minutes in boiling water and stop the cooking process in ice water.

Remove the large rib, but leave as much leaf intact as possible.

Saute 1 chopped onion, 1 chopped pepper, 1 tbsp minced garlic in 1/2 tbsp olive oil. Set aside to cool.

Next, make a filling of 1/2 c crushed almonds or almond flour (I process some whole raw almonds in a food processor until fairly fine), 1.5 c lentils, 1.5 c cooked rice, sauteed veg, and 1/2 c shredded cheese (I used 1/4 c parmesan and 1/4 c mozzarella). Stir until mixed thoroughly. Add 1 tsp salt, taste, and add more salt if you like.

Put a nice-sized dollap of filling into the fat part of your cabbage leaf (I used 1/3 c). Then carefully fold and stitch with a toothpick (or three if you have an especially testy patient...)
When you've filled all of your cabbage leaves (I got 10 filled) and dropped them into some tomato sauce. I have a recipe listed below, but you could just as easily use some jarred spaghetti sauce.
Simmer for 25 minutes and serve in the sauce.
We ate it  with some pumpernickel bread on the side.

It was a really delicious recipe, and has the capacity to be super-cheap. You could sub your favorite cooked ground meat in for the lentils - ground sausage, chicken, or turkey would probably be excellent - and is filled with phytonutrients and protein.

I have two complaints: It took an awful lot of dishes to make this, and if I didn't already have cooked rice and lentils on hand (lentils freeze excellently by the way!), it would have taken a really long time. This isn't an ideal weeknight meal.

I will be eating up the leftovers for a week, so that is the pay-off!

Here is a nice copy of the recipe as I made it.

Almond-Lentil Cabbage Rolls
Filling - 
1/2 c almond flour or crushed almonds
1.5 c cooked lentils
1.5 c cooked rice
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/4 c shredded parmesan
1/4 c shredded mozzarella
1/2 tbsp oil

32 oz crushed tomatoes
1/2 onion, chopped
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp oregano
1 tbsp dill
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp oil

10 cabbage leaves, washed

Blanch cabbage leaves for 2-3 minutes until pliable. Remove thickest part of rib. 

For filling, saute onion, garlic, and pepper. Set aside and allow to cool for a few minutes. Mix rice, lentils, almond flour, sauteed vegetables, and cheese. Add 1 tsp salt. Taste and salt again if neccesary. 

To make sauce, saute onion and garlic until translucent, add tomatoes, sugar, salt, and herbs. Allow to simmer 5 minutes. Taste and add salt or sugar to preferences. 

Drop the cabbage rolls into the sauce and simmer, covered, for 25 minutes. Serve hot in sauce. 

Hope you like them. I'm off for now - see you again soon!

The framed photos shown in the post are under the copyright filed by Tobias Mann, photographed by the author of this post, who has received full, permissions to do so by the original author of the works in question, Tobias Mann.


  1. That recipe sounds so delicious! And thanks for reiterating the "freeze stuff" tip...I'll have to remember to cook an extra-huge batch of lentils next time and just freeze the extras!

  2. yum! Can't wait to try it! and I love the pic of Lyra! What a cutie pie!!! and your new plate is beautiful along with your new art work!! Way to go Tobias!!