Lillian’s Whole Stuffed Cabbage

3.3
(3)

This impressive vegetarian main is made by wrapping leaves of cabbage around a delicious filling for a final presentation that looks like a whole cabbage.

Lillian's Whole Stuffed Cabbage
Lillian's Whole Stuffed Cabbage. Photo:

Frederick Hardy II / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Thom Driver

Active Time:
1 hrs
Total Time:
2 hrs 30 mins
Servings:
6

As chef Sarah Grueneberg was creating recipes for her new cookbook, Listen to Your Vegetables, she took the intentions behind her book’s title to heart.

“It’s about giving the vegetables their voice,” she says. “In my head, I give them alter egos. I ask them how they want to be represented in the kitchen, how they want to be presented.”

When it came to cabbage, the voice Grueneberg heard sounded unmistakably like her grandmother Lillian, who taught her to peel the leaves off a head of cabbage, shred and sauté the core, mix it with crushed crackers and thyme, and roll that mixture into the leaves for a presentation that looks like a whole cabbage. A version of that stuffed cabbage dish, dubbed Lillian’s Stuffed Cabbage, graces the menu of Grueneberg’s Chicago restaurant, Monteverde.

Grueneberg added a few Italian touches to the original recipe to make the dish her own. She prefers Savoy cabbage for its shape and frilly texture, and she seasons the filling with allspice, Parmigiano-Reggiano, rosemary, and aged balsamic vinegar.

In Grueneberg’s recipe, the blanched leaves of savoy cabbage are layered in a bowl, then filled with a mixture of melted onions, buttery chopped cabbage, cheese and herbs, that’s suffused with allspice, enlivened with aged balsamic, and given a savory oomph from Parmigiano. The leaves are then wrapped around the filling to form the shape of a whole head of cabbage, boiled, and finally roasted. Basting the whole cabbage with butter as it roasts elevates the flavor, but also encourages the outer leaves to crisp and brown. 

But a few key ingredients remain from Lillian’s method. “The saltines are the one thing you can’t change,” Grueneberg says with a laugh. “Don’t even try breadcrumbs! I like to crush the saltines by hand; it gives them texture. They don’t have to be so fine.” And she retains the brown butter: “That was a luxury for my grandmother, and it is for me, too.”

The cabbage can be stuffed, tied, and chilled overnight before it is blanched in hot water and roasted the next day. At her restaurant, Grueneberg tops the stuffed cabbage with porcini mushroom Bolognese, a fried egg, and shaved carrots and radishes. But even without those touches, Lillian would surely approve. 

Make Ahead Tip: The cabbage can be prepared  through step 5; cover and refrigerate up to 8 hours or overnight.

Wine Pairing: Umami-rich “natural” white: Milan Nestarec Bel

Ingredients

  • 2 small heads Savoy cabbage (about 1 1/2 pounds each)

  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter (12 ounces), divided

  •  1 medium-size (9-ounce) yellow onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise (about 1 3/4 cups)

  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

  • 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

  • 1 (4-ounce) sleeve saltine crackers, coarsely crushed (about 2 cups)

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (about 2 1/2 ounces), divided

  • 2 (3-inch) rosemary sprigs

  • 2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar

Directions

  1. Prepare and Blanch the Cabbage Leaves

    Lillian's Whole Stuffed Cabbage
    Lillian's Whole Stuffed Cabbage.

    Frederick Hardy II / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Thom Driver

    Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, using a sharp knife, remove and discard bottom core and stem of each cabbage. Gently peel away outer leaves from each cabbage, using a paring knife to separate the leaves from the core, until you have 10 to 12 leaves total; reserve cabbage hearts. Quickly rinse if there is dirt in the leaves. Fill a large bowl with ice water; set aside. Add cabbage leaves and 2 tablespoons salt to boiling water in pot; cook until softened and pliable, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn off heat. Using tongs, remove leaves from boiling water, and submerge in ice bath to stop the cooking process. (Don’t empty the pot of water.) Drain leaves, and transfer to a platter or baking sheet lined with a clean towel to dry.

  2. Cook the Filling

    Lillian's Whole Stuffed Cabbage
    Lillian's Whole Stuffed Cabbage.

    Frederick Hardy II / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Thom Driver

    Thinly shred reserved cabbage hearts to equal about 6 cups; reserve remaining cabbage for another use. Melt 1/2 cup butter in a large saucepan over medium-high. Add onion; cook, stirring often, until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add shredded cabbage and remaining 1 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until cabbage softens, about 10 minutes. Stir in thyme, parsley, cracked pepper, and allspice. Transfer mixture to a large bowl; let cool slightly, about 5 minutes. Add crushed crackers, eggs, and 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano; stir gently until combined. To keep cracker crumbs differently sized, do not overmix.

  3. Arrange The Cabbage Leaves

    Lillian's Whole Stuffed Cabbage
    Lillian's Whole Stuffed Cabbage.

    Frederick Hardy II / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Thom Driver

    Line a medium (cabbage-size) bowl with a lint-free linen towel or 2 layers of cheesecloth with several inches draping over edges of bowl. Begin layering the cabbage leaves in bottom of bowl with tops of leaves pointing toward bottom of bowl, layering them so bottom stem ends drape over rim of bowl. (They will hang halfway over the side.) Start with darker green leaves on the bottom, as this will be the presentation side of the cabbage. Continue layering the leaves until all of the leaves have been used.

  4. Stuff the Cabbage

    Lillian's Whole Stuffed Cabbage
    Lillian's Whole Stuffed Cabbage.

    Frederick Hardy II / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Thom Driver

    Place shredded cabbage–cracker filling in center of layered cabbage leaves in bowl, pressing down and shaping filling into a ball. Then begin folding the leaves over the top of the filling, working up and around the filling to cover. (It should begin to look like a whole cabbage.) Lift the sides of the towel or cheesecloth up and twist, squeezing to form a tight ball. Use excess towel or cheesecloth to tie into a knot. Alternatively, secure and tie using kitchen twine. If you want to make the cabbage ahead of time, the cabbage can be prepared cabbage through this point, then covered and refrigerated up to 8 hours or overnight.


  5. Boil the Stuffed Cabbage

    Lillian's Whole Stuffed Cabbage
    Lillian's Whole Stuffed Cabbage.

    Frederick Hardy II / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Thom Driver

    Return the pot of cabbage cooking liquid to a boil. Place tied cabbage in boiling water, and boil 15 minutes. Using tongs, transfer cabbage from water to a colander or kitchen towel; let cool 5 minutes.

  6. Roast and Baste the Cabbage

    Lillian's Whole Stuffed Cabbage
    Lillian's Whole Stuffed Cabbage.

    Frederick Hardy II / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Thom Driver

    Preheat oven to 375°F. Cut remaining 1/4 cup butter into small cubes, and place in a round or oval baking dish, a cast-iron skillet, or a high-sided 9- x 13-inch baking dish. Untie cabbage, and remove from towel; place cabbage, seam side down, in baking dish. Roast in preheated oven until cabbage has started to turn brown and crispy, about 40 minutes, basting with butter in baking dish every 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Place rosemary sprigs on top of cabbage, and baste again to coat rosemary in butter. Return to oven, and roast at 375°F until rosemary has started to brown and crisp, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven; spoon browned butter from baking dish over top. Sprinkle cabbage with remaining 2 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano. Let cool 5 minutes. Slice cabbage into wedges (similar to a pie). Drizzle evenly with balsamic vinegar, and serve.

  7. Brown with Herbs

    Lillian's Whole Stuffed Cabbage
    Lillian's Whole Stuffed Cabbage.

    Frederick Hardy II / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Thom Driver

    Remove from oven. Place rosemary sprigs on top of cabbage, and baste again to coat rosemary in butter. Return to oven, and roast at 375°F until rosemary has started to brown and crisp, about 10 minutes. 


  8. Top with Cheese, Slice, and Serve

    Lillian's Whole Stuffed Cabbage
    Lillian's Whole Stuffed Cabbage.

    Frederick Hardy II / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Thom Driver

    Remove from oven; spoon browned butter from baking dish over top. Sprinkle cabbage with remaining 2 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano. Let cool 5 minutes. Slice cabbage into wedges (similar to a pie). Drizzle evenly with balsamic vinegar, and serve. 

Related Articles