I've had a little bit of a bleak week and haven't been particularly well. People have advised rest, taking care of myself and indulging a little. It might seem a little odd but spending an hour or two in the kitchen ticks all of those well being boxes and so that was exactly what I did. Sunday afternoon, me, myself, a cabbage and radio 4.
There is something very beautiful about the intricately wrinkled leaves of a Savoy cabbage; they seem wiser and more interesting than their white contemporaries and wouldn't be seen dead in a coleslaw. I wanted to use the leaves, these natural containers and play with them a little. Their fate was to be stuffed with an almost sweet tomato risotto and laid to rest in a pool of white wine sauce. Lucky leaves, I'd say.
STUFFED CABBAGE LEAVES WITH SUN DRIED TOMATO RISOTTO
8 large leaves of a Savoy cabbage
For the risotto
2 tbsp olive oil
1 white onion
knob of butter
200g risotto rice (Arborio or Carnaroli)
800ml very hot chicken stock
2 tbsp red pesto
100g sundried tomatoes, roughly chopped
For the sauce
A knob of butter
2 shallots, finely chopped
200ml white wine
200ml double cream
1/ Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a deep sauté pan over a high heat. Add the onion to the pan and fry for 2-3 minutes until it has turned translucent and edging on golden. Reduce the heat to low. Over a gentle heat, add the risotto rice to the pan and stir so the grains are coated in oily butter. Gradually add all but 100ml the hot stock, one ladleful at a time, stirring each until absorbed before you think of adding the next, it will take about 20 minutes so go slowly. Season.
3/ When the risotto cooked and the stock has been absorbed stir through the pesto and the sundried tomatoes.
4/ Preheat the oven to 180C, fan 160C, gas 6.
5/ Meanwhile prepare the cabbage; carefully remove the outer 8 leaves (no more – the inner leaves are too small!) and cut away a triangle section of the thick base end. Blanch the leaves in batches in a pot of boiling water for a minute or so until softened but not boiled; leave to cool.
6/ Once the risotto and leaves are cool, make the parcels; divide the risotto into 8 and place spoonful’s at the bottom of each leaf. Roll the leaves up, one at a time, wrapping the sides in as you go and placing them into an ovenproof dish with the edge side down so they have no chance to unwrap.
7/ Make the white sauce by simply melting a little butter in a small pan, over a medium heat. Add the shallots and fry until they soften but don’t colour. Pour over the wine and increase the heat a little. Allow it to bubble until halved in volume and then pour over the cream. Reduce the heat and simmer for a minute or so.
8/ Pour the creamy sauce over your cabbage rolls and give the dish a good grating of black pepper. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes before serving with a fresh green salad.