Nuts, mushrooms cabbage rolls - Easter Lent healthy alternative

 •  English

The recipes of cabbage rolls - sarmale - are as numerous as the cooks, while the delicious dishes could be prepared in so many ways that a book could be written with such meals only.

Photo credit: (c) Cristian NISTOR / AGERPRES ARCHIVE

Inasmuch as it is Lent time, the most appropriate dishes are the cabbage rolls in pickled cabbage or vine leaves stuffed with vegetables and nuts or mushrooms.

The secret of this recipe is unveiled by Mrs. Teodora from Miercurea Ciuc, a city in the County of Harghita (central Romania), who is born in Iasi (north-east) and keeps the culinary traditions of the area she comes from. She says that these recipes are frequently used in the nuns' convents of Moldavia and of Harghita, too.

'Should we prefer cabbage rolls with nuts, we have to work a bit harder than we'd do if making the ones with mushrooms, because the nuts' core must be parboiled in two-three waters. If we talk about fresh mushrooms, they should be peeled and minced, then stewed and browned in oil until water evaporates,' Mrs. Teodora tells us.

She specifies that the secret of a tasty cabbage roll stays in the sweetness of the onion. 'The onions should be sliced in very small parts, 2-3 middle-sized onions, then fried in 100 ml of oil, together with a grated carrot, a parsley root, a parsnip root and one chopped red capsicum,' the cook says.

Then, salt is added and when the vegetables 'are almost dried out of water or how the cooks say, they are softened enough, a cup of rice and a spoonful of tomato broth are added, and they are kept on the fire for a few more minutes, until the rice grain absorbs the juice of the vegetables and becomes a bit sticky. To add colour and taste, too one could sprinkle green dill, after which the steamed and chopped nuts — rd 150 gr — or one half of a kilo of fresh mushrooms.

This composition is left to cool. Meanwhile, the dish is added salt and oil to, if necessary. The filling is rolled either in pickled cabbage or in vine leaves put in brine from last autumn for the winter time, then the rolls are placed in a pot on which's bottom one could place a sprig of dried thyme. They are covered in water and boiled at a very small fire for at least one hour and a half.

Mrs. Teodora guarantees that the fasting cabbage rolls could be eaten warm and cold, as well, they are very fragrant and 'are, probably, tastier than those filled with meat.' And, since in the kitchen creativity is essential, this recipe could use besides the Romanian nuts, cashew or almond nuts which are also an important source of protein.

'It's a recipe which is very much observed in the nuns' convents of Moldavia and Harghita, too and was transmitted to the housewives as well, who make these cabbage rolls especially in the Lent time. The nuns do preserve ever since the summer porcini, ceps or garbage mushrooms, all of which very good for the cabbage rolls, they prepare for the Lent days when they could cook using oil. It is a very nourishing, tasty food,' Mrs. Teodora concludes.


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