Stuffed Cabbage with Smoked Cheddar Mashers, Tempeh Italian Sausage and Heirloom Tomato Sauce

My New Year’s wish for you: May you stay open hearted, full of compassion, grounded – and make the choice to eat good food! Keep Pachamama in mind with love as you walk through your days, and choose what you eat. And now for that good food. To me, this vegetarian recipe is an absolutely ideal winter dish. Your kitchen will be filled with rich, wonderful scents, I promise….

Stuffed Cabbage with Smoked Cheddar Mashers, Tempeh Italian Sausage and Roast Heirloom Tomato Sauce

Stuffed Cabbage with Smoked Cheddar Mashers, Tempeh Italian Sausage and Roast Heirloom Tomato Sauce

The recipe was inspired by a Julia Child gem I found in Sunday’s Parade magazine quite a number of years ago. The original recipe, and most versions I’ve made since, incorporates TWO stuffings into the cabbage. I often make a version with mashed potatoes, then a mushroom gorgonzola or chevre mixture for the second stuffing. The method of stuffing the cabbage is what’s unusual. Boil the cored head of cabbage until tender, then gently separate the leaves from the center. The cabbage head is re-constructed with a scrumptious layer of smoked cheddar and sautéed red onion mashed potatoes between each leaf of cabbage, braised then sliced like a cake. I made dried tomato, fennel, oregano, garlic and red chili seasoned tempeh sausage patties to go with, and a simple, rich tomato sauce to bring it all together.

Stuffed Cabbage with Smoked Cheddar Mashers

A wedge of the stuffed cabbage, showing the layers of smoked cheddar mashed potatoes and cabbage leaves

A wedge of the stuffed cabbage, showing the layers of smoked cheddar mashed potatoes and cabbage leaves

  • 1 cabbage
  • 4-5 medium to large Yukon Gold or other favorite potatoes, diced
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp. good butter, for sauté – additional as desired for mashed potatoes
  • 1 1/2 c. shredded smoked cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a few tablespoons basil pesto – if desired to rub over the stuffed cabbage
  • 1 tbsp. fennel seed

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Boil whole cored cabbage, immersed in water, with chopped potatoes in a large pot until leaves and potatoes are tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Meanwhile, sauté onion and garlic in butter until lightly browned. Lift the cabbage and test a leaf or two to see if it easily twists/detaches from the head. Cool. Reserve cooking water.

Mash potatoes with onion, garlic,  a little more butter, salt and pepper. Stir in shredded smoked cheddar. Set aside.

Lay one leaf of cabbage out evenly in bowl. Spread a thin layer of mashed potatoes on leaf. Add second leaf pressing lightly over 1st. Spread additional mashed potatoes in layer over leaf. Continue until you’ve re-constructed a round cabbage head, upside down in bowl. Gently turn it over. Rub with basil pesto and sprinkle with fennel seeds, a little salt and pepper if you like. Pour a reserved cooking water into side of bowl, immersing the cabbage a third to about halfway. Cover tightly with foil and bake 40-45 minutes or until bubbly. Lift cabbage from bowl with two spatulas onto platter.  Cut into wedges with a very sharp straight edge, or serrated bread knife to serve.

Stuffed cabbage ready to braise, with a plate of tempeh sausage patties alongside

Stuffed cabbage ready to braise, with a plate of tempeh sausage patties alongside

Tempeh Italian Sausage

The dried tomatoes studding this vegetarian “sausage” along with traditional herbs, spices and plenty of garlic create a very satisfying flavor!

Studded with dried tomatoes, fennel seed, garlic and herbs - the tempeh saausge patties are ready to saute

Studded with dried tomatoes, fennel seed, garlic and herbs – the tempeh sausage patties are ready to saute

Gathering the ingredients –

  • 1 package tempeh (generally 12 oz.)
  • 1 1/4 c. dried tomatoes (I used Yellow Pear, Sun Golds & Moby Grape tomatoes I dried last fall), reconstitute in hot water, drain, squeeze excess moisture out and chop finely
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. fennel seed
  • 1 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. crushed red chili flakes
  • additional olive oil for sautéing the sausage patties

Steam quartered tempeh for 15-20 minutes over medium high heat, turn off heat and keep the pan lid on while you assemble food processor (or bowl and fork) and rest of ingredients. Pulse tempeh, dried tomatoes, oil, garlic and herbs in food processor, or alternatively, “process” with fork, breaking apart tempeh and working ingredients together into a smooth-ish mixture. Add a little more oil if you like, to bind the mixture well, or if you are eating eggs, omit oil and bind together with one beaten egg. Shape into patties. Saute over medium heat until lightly browned on both sides.

sauteing the tempeh sausage patties

sauteing the tempeh sausage patties

Heirloom Tomato Sauce

Lacking fresh heirloom tomatoes to roast and cook up into a rich simple sauce,  I love the Muir Glen brand of organic canned tomatoes – fire-roasted are excellent. Here is a photo of the final round of San Marzano, Brandywine and Purple Cherokee tomatoes of the season, rubbed with olive oil and sprinkled with kosher salt, ready for the oven.

ready for roasting

ready for roasting

  • 1 quart – or thereabouts – of tomato sauce
  • 4-5 cloves minced garlic
  • olive oil for saute
  • chopped fresh basil
  • minced fresh rosemary

Saute garlic in oil, slowly add tomatoes and simmer with basil until thickened.

To serve, ladle a spoonful of tomato sauce on a plate, place a wedge of the cabbage a-top, arrange sausage patties, perhaps a little more sauce, and serve…

Dinner is served! another view of the Stuffed Cabbage dish

Dinner is served! another view of the Stuffed Cabbage dish

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