Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Cabbage Pie Soup

Photo by Sergio Salvador
www.salvadorphoto.com
This is my favorite cabbage recipe of all time! I know, it sounds weird. If you try it, I guarantee you will be amazed by its deliciousness. Everyone I've served it to has loved it. It's a bit of an indulgence - the crust is full of butter and sour cream, but it's actually the rich flavor of the cabbage that makes it taste so good. If you are so inclined, you can probably experiment with making it lower in fat and it will still be good.

Many people think of cabbage as a bland, boring vegetable. This may be because they've only had it boiled! I do enjoy cabbage in a stew, but that is not the way to bring out cabbage's best flavor. And you can only eat so much coleslaw. Cabbage develops a wonderful nutty flavor when sauteed. Even more amazing is the flavor it takes on when you add a balance of salt, sugar and vinegar.

This recipe is adapted from Darra Goldstein's The Winter Vegetarian.  I remember when I bought this cookbook, a co-worker said "Wow, that sounds boring!"  He couldn't have been more wrong - it is a fascinating book, full of Eastern European recipes, stories about Tolstoy's ascetic vegetarian diet, and about a thousand uses for buckwheat.

Ok, so here we go. This does take a little while to prepare, so don't start it at 6:45pm when you're starving. You can use pre-made pie crust to save time, but the original crust is so much better...

Crust:
2 cups flour (half whole wheat is good!)
8 Tbs butter
1 cup sour cream
1 beaten egg

Filling:
1 head of cabbage (green is fine, red is gorgeous!)
4 Tbs butter
2 Tbs vinegar
3 Tbs sugar
2 tsp salt

Broth:
I just use vegetable bouillion, but if you like to make stock, go for it!

Cut together the flour and butter, with a fork or a food processor, until its texture resembles cornmeal. Then stir in the sour cream until the dough holds together. Divide the dough into two balls, wrap them in plastic and refrigerate for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 425. Slice up the cabbage into thin ribbons, or grate in the food processor. I like to cut it rather than grate it. If you grate it, it has a very different texture. Heat the butter on medium high in a large skillet. Toss in the cabbage, and cover with a lid for 5-10 minutes to help it wilt down faster. Add the rest of the ingredients - the salt will cause the cabbage to release some water. Cook on high heat, stirring frequently, until all liquid is absorbed or evaporated, and the cabbage is translucent. How long this takes depends on how finely you cut or grate the cabbage, about 20-30 minutes. I like to cook it down a lot, until it is slightly browned.

Roll out each ball of dough to fit a 9x13 pan. Spread the cabbage over the bottom crust. Cover with the top crust, and roll up the edges of both crusts together. Brush the top with the beaten egg. Bake 20-30 minutes, until the top is golden brown.

Now for the strange part. To serve, put a square of pie in a wide bowl and pour the broth over it. You might be thinking, why make it soup?? The cabbage pie looks pretty good by itself, and won't it get soggy?! Trust me, it really is even better with the broth.
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