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Seasoning Is the Secret of Her Success

<i> Shaw is a free-lance writer in Los Angeles. </i>

What counts to me are recipes combining vegetables and whole grains with seasonings. Seasonings turn up in each of my cooking volumes, including Mireille Johnston’s collection of dishes from “Nice and Provence, Cuisine of the Sun” (Vintage), from which I’ve adapted a recipe for this stuffed cabbage.

RICE AND VEGETABLE-STUFFED CABBAGE BAKED IN WINE

1 large head green cabbage

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

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Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 onions, minced

Olive oil

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3 cloves garlic, crushed

1 1/2 cups finely minced parsley

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup cooked brown or white rice

1 cup cooked peas

1 1/2 cups cooked garbanzo beans

1/2 teaspoon saffron

3 carrots, sliced

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2 onions, sliced

1 whole garlic clove

3/4 cup dry white wine

3/4 cup vegetable broth

Remove tough outer leaves of cabbage. Wash and shred leaves. Set aside. Cook head of cabbage in large pot of boiling water 10 minutes. Drain in colander and let cool. Gently peel off leaves and spread on paper towels. Sprinkle with cumin and salt and pepper to taste.

Saute minced onions in 2 tablespoons olive oil until tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer to large mixing bowl. Add to bowl crushed garlic, parsley, eggs, rice, peas, garbanzo beans and shredded cabbage leaves. Add saffron and mix thoroughly with hands. Taste to adjust for seasonings.

Take large piece of cheesecloth and place 4 or 5 of largest cabbage leaves in circle at center so that bottoms of leaves overlap. Place stuffing in center at point where leaves overlap, then cover with remaining leaves. Pull up corners of cheesecloth and tie tightly with piece of string, to form firm, melon-shaped ball.

Saute carrots, sliced onions and whole garlic clove in 2 tablespoons olive oil in deep roasting pan 5 minutes. Add wine and broth. Place stuffed cabbage on top of vegetables. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees, 3 to 4 hours, checking to make sure liquid doesn’t evaporate. Cabbage is done when knife slides through ball easily.

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To serve, place cabbage ball on warm, shallow serving dish. Slice in large wedges. Pour little of cooking juices over each slice. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Note: Serve with sprouted wheat or other hearty bread.


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