Friday, 10 December 2010

Quinoa Cabbage Rolls

The past two months or so, I have been relying on public transport to get me to and fro work as D has had the car driving back and fro to Essex to be with his mother. The past two weeks he has been home with me in Snowy Scotland, so I have had access to the car. However, due to the amount of snow - weather forecasters described the roads in the Central Belt of Scotland as treacherous and dangerous to drive on, so driving in these conditions was best avoided. I continued with public transport (both train and bus).

On Monday, I got into work, looking almost like the abominable snow-woman, my purple coat turned white by the sudden flurry of falling snow. I stepped into the foyer and shook like a dog shaking off excess rain water from its fur. Getting home on Monday was such a nuisance, unlike some of my colleagues who got stuck on roads described in the local and national news as 'gridlocked’ (where no vehicles, including buses were moving). I managed to walk to the city centre. It took me about an hour treading slowly through the snow. When I got to the train station, the train was cancelled. It was 2 hours later when one came and I was back in the warmth of my home. (I was one of the fortunate ones who got home that evening, many were stuck on the snowbound roads). The past three days have been similar..transport links cancelled, or heavily delayed and me with many others trudging in the snow to get to work then home. This morning with the roads slightly clear from snow, D decided he was going to drive me into work, but when we got into the car the battery was flat. We have no friends living near by, so no one could help us with jump leads to start the car. We don’t have home start on the car insurance, so we will have to pay a vehicle repair centre to get us moving again. Anyway, I left the car worries to D and walked down to the train station again…to play ground hog day with the bleak travelling conditions.

The ice and snowy weather looks like it here to stay for a while. Right now though, I just want to say Thank goodness for the weekend.
This dish looks much better served on the plate than it appears here. Tucked beneath the deep red tomato vegetable sauce are bundles of green. A bit like a treasure chest covered green in moss and seaweed, once open it inside you will find edible beads that will delight and surprise your taste buds. I am not a devotee of quinoa, but even I have to put my hands up and say that the quinoa chickpea filling in these cabbage parcels was surprisingly tasty, elevated by the salty-stringiness of the melting Gruyere cheese.
I don’t usually have problems wrapping lettuce, cabbage or Swiss chard leaves around vegetable or grain fillings, but for some reason I was feeling rather incompetent at this task. I seemed to have cut off more of the stalk than necessary, as the filling was not well contained and easing out a little. My attitude was a little non fussed and forgiving really. I thought what the heck, I was only feeding D. Funny how once upon a time you do your utmost to win the heart of the person you want through ‘the aesthetics of good food’ but then when you've trapped them under your spell (and won their heart so to speak), its not so much about presentation, but about sustenance and taste. Quinoa Cabbage Rolls
Serves 4
4 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, finely sliced
2 sticks celery, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
100g chestnut mushrooms, finely sliced
100g quinoa
400ml vegetable stock
100g cooked chickpeas
1 large Savoy cabbage
1 x 400g tinned tomatoes, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
(Optional) 100g Gruyere cheese, grated
Heat the oil in a pan. Add onion, celery, carrots and garlic. Cook over a medium heat until softened. Set aside half of the mix in a bowl. Then add the chestnut mushrooms to the pan and cook for a few minutes. Add the quinoa and cook for a minute, stirring all the time. Pour in the stock and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for about 20 minutes or until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the quinoa is tender. Once cooked, adjust seasoning if necessary and stir in the chickpeas.
Fill a large pan of water, add a pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Using a small knife, carefully remove the core from the cabbage, peel away 8 – 12 leaves and cook in boiling water for 5 minutes or until softened. Drain.
Remove the tough centre stalks for each leaf, and lay the leaves on a work surface, vein side down. Place approximately 2 heaped tablespoons of quinoa mix on one half and the leaf, and roll up, folding the sides in as you form a parcel. The size of the leaves will differ so fill and wrap accordingly. Place in a large ovenproof (casserole) dish, seam side down.
Return the softened vegetables that were set aside to a clean pan and add the chopped tomatoes and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until reduced by half. Pour over the stuffed cabbage leaves, cover with lid or foil and cook in the oven Gas Mark 4 until tender, about 40 minutes. Serve hot, sprinkled with Gruyere cheese. Adapted slightly from Maria Elia The Modern Vegetarian.


  1. Good lord you poor things having to deal with all that. I'll never complain about feeling too hot again, I hope all that snow melts soon enough!

    I've not made cabbage rolls before, these look delicious, especially with the lovely sauce and quinoa.

  2. Thank goodness for the weekend indeed, you most certainly have earned it. That sounds so difficult! I don't get snow where I live but I do head to the mountains to snowboard, so I've been in a few blizzards and white out conditions - so I know how horrible it is to get around from point A and point B.. but I know it is not nearly the same as living in it. I hope you have a wonderful and cozy weekend. These cabbage rolls look amazing - I'm actually eating some quinoa right at this moment! It's a pea and squash quinoa salad. So delicious.

  3. I'm sorry to read about your freezing commute but when you get home in the kitchen you know how to put together a comforting dish. I love quinoa and like the idea of making the cabbage bundles filled with veggies and cheese and covered with tomato sauce, yum! Have a warm weekend:)

  4. "Abominable snow woman" But seriously, you poor thing, trudging around in the snow and waiting around for trains! Why can't they just call a national snow day and everyone stay home and comfy!

    The cabbage rolls are so pretty and sound so nourishing and delicious! I think I see these coming soon to a table near me!

  5. Thanks Emma.
    Woke up this morning and the snow is melting away - hoorah. I was thinking of not leaving home this weekend at all, but I may just do so now and maybe pick up some presents!

    Thanks Roxan :)
    I agree I do feel like I've earned it this time. The irony is other countries cope with snow well, whenever it falls in Scotland the whole country seems to grind to a halt.
    Anyway, there are good signs of it melting it away.

    So you've been eating some quinoa - your pea and squash quinoa salad quite delicious.

  6. Thanks Patty.
    I knew the weather was going to be like this, so I had prepared meals at the weekend.
    The quinoa cabbage bundles were a good choice to make in advance:)

    Thanks Rose.
    Yes, it would have been good if they had called it a national snow day and everyone stay home. I'd have liked it, but not everyone suffered the same degree of snow disruptions!

    I totally recommend making these quinoa cabbage rolls!

  7. Ive been wanting to make some cabbage rolls for a while now. Yours look lovely!


  8. Thank you Rose.
    Do make some. Cabbage rolls are so versatile in that you can stuff them with whatever you wish.

  9. substance over style every time for me! the cabbage rolls look delicious and great sustenance for you in that snowy weather - it sounds terrible - am glad you were not stuck in the snow overnight but it is terrible that others were. Hope you get your car battery started ok.

  10. Thank you Johanna.
    So glad its the weekend really and guess what the snow is melting away. We got someone to come out this morning and jump start the car, its going again. Time for a visit to supermarket now.

  11. Wow...Chilly here but no snow and as our public transport is abomidable, I'm fortunate not to be stuck anywhere. I hope you get to the supermarket and home without a problem. Expecting rain tomorrow and more cold weather.

  12. Hi there e.
    Sorry to read that your transport links are not good. Its not that great here either really.
    We did get to the supermarket and picked up a few bits. Stay warm and dry.

  13. How nice to have a visit from across the ocean.I have a little door to door soup business in the winter months so love all the soup suggestions on the side bar..........

  14. I love, love love quinoa. What a fantastically creative dish you made! I would really like to make this - although I am intimidated by rolling. Yours are perfect!

  15. Thank you Hobbit.
    So glad you like the soup suggestions. I especially love the Thai Butternut squash, the tofu croutons on top elevated the dish more.

    Thank you Anna.
    This time round, I struggled with the rolling of the cabbage leaves, but they were fine once served up.

  16. Ooooh, big quinoa lover here. I'll definitely give these a try.


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