Posts Tagged 'barley'

Barley-Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Pine Nuts and Currants

Every St. Patrick’s Day I fall prey to the temptation to make corned beef and cabbage and, no matter how carefully I pick the corned beef, eyeing it for evidence of fat, I am always queasy afterwards, because no matter how many times I drain the boiling liquid, corned beef and cabbage just isn’t kind to me.  So this year I decided no corned beef boiling in the kitchen.  I bought a small package of deli corned beef – the kind where 2 slices = 2.5 grams of fat – and had a corned beef sandwich for lunch.  But I still had purchased the cabbage, because they are at a very good price around St. Patrick’s Day.  I wanted to make something a little different.

Now my dear mother used to make wonderful stuffed cabbage, sweet and sour and beef-filled.  And I plan to make it one day with buffalo to show you all the recipe she was famous for and which was one of my favorite childhood foods.  But this is not mother’s stuffed cabbage. It is a very tasty vegetarian stuffed cabbage that originally came from Cooking Light. Strangely, once I cooked it, it had some of the same flavor as my mother’s cabbage rolls, although the ingredients are quite different.

Barley-Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Pine Nuts and Currants

1 large head of green cabbage, cored and with any damaged outer leaves removed
1 teaspoon olive oil
1½ cups finely chopped onion
3 cups cooked pearl barley
¾ cup (3 ounces) crumbled non-fat feta cheese
½ cup dried currants
2 Tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (or one Tablespoon dried parley)
½ teaspoon salt, divided
¼ teaspoon black pepper, divided
½ cup apple juice
1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
1 (14.5-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, undrained

Steam cabbage head 8 minutes; cool slightly. (See note below.) Remove 16 outer leaves from cabbage head; use remaining cabbage for another purpose. Cut off raised portion of the center vein of each cabbage leaf (do not cut out vein, you want the leaf whole); set trimmed cabbage leaves aside.
(The pink background is one of my plastic mats that I use to cover my kitchen counter.)

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion; cover and cook 6 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat; stir in barley and next 4 ingredients (through parsley). Stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.

Place cabbage leaves on a flat surface; spoon about 1/3 cup barley mixture into center of each cabbage leaf.

Fold in edges of leaves over barley mixture and roll up.

Arrange cabbage rolls in the bottom of a 5-quart electric slow cooker.

In a medium bowl, combine the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/8 teaspoon pepper, apple juice, vinegar, and tomatoes; pour evenly over cabbage rolls. Cover and cook on high 2 hours or until thoroughly heated. Makes 4 servings (4 rolls are one serving) at 6 grams of fat/serving.

I actually could have made at least six more rolls with the filling, so either I was not stuffing them enough, or my leaves weren’t big enough.  I took the extra filling for lunch.  Also, I used a can of diced tomatoes because that was what I had in the house – but crushed tomatoes (or diced tomatoes that were chopped in the food processor) would have made a smoother sauce.

NOTE: I did not like this way of separating the cabbage leaves. The outside leaves were soft enough, but as you got to the inside, they were harder and thus more difficult to fill and roll.  I suppose you could stick the cabbage back in the steamer for a bit after you reached the harder leaves.  My mother didn’t have a steamer, so she immersed the cabbage in boiling water for a bit, then took it out and sliced off the soft leaves at the bottom (she didn’t core it). Then she put the cabbage back in the boiling water and repeated until she had all the leaves she needed.  This seemed to produce more, softer leaves.

Buffalo Bone Soup

I have been having some odd experiences.  On at least 4 occasions, people I have known for a long time, but perhaps not seen for a while have stared at me with a puzzled expression, not seeming to recognize me.  One person came up to me after a committee meeting and told me that she didn’t know who I was until I said my name in the introductions.  Now this seems strange to me, because when I look in the mirror, particularly when I am in the buff, I feel like I look exactly like I always have – pale, pink and flabby.  My face looks the same, although I have more neck, and I am still a short, somewhat plump redhead.  I know empirically that I must be different – the scale says so and my pants are too big – but unrecognizable?  It’s disquieting.

This recipe is really a variation on my mother’s soup with flanken.  Flanken are very fatty little bits of short ribs which are too fatty to use in most dishes.  I haven’t seen buffalo bones, except for T-bone and other steaks.  But this week there were buffalo ribs in the meat case along with the usual cuts.  The butcher and I agreed that these might not make good barbecue, so I decided on soup.  Really, you need bones to make a rich meat soup.

This is an imprecise recipe, because you can add a bit of whatever you want. My mother always used this soup mix as the base of her soup.  This makes a thick, porridge-like soup.


Buffalo Bone Soup

2 pounds of buffalo bones
7 cups of water
soup mix
¼ cup barley
½ of a large onion, chopped
other things to add if you like
1 cup of dried shitake mushroom (small pieces)
a carrot, chopped
a stalk of celery, chopped
chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Trim as much fat as you can off the meat – really, if they are ribs you are not going to be able to get most of the fat off.  Place in a large pot and cover with 7 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 3 hours, stirring occasionally.  Remove meat from pot and set aside, pour liquid into a large container and chill overnight.  Remove from refrigerator. Great gobs of fat will have solidified on the surface of the soup. Remove them all, using a strainer if necessary.  Measure the soup liquid into a pot and add water or broth until you again have 7 cups of liquid. Add contents of the soup mix plus ¼ cup of barley, and shitake mushrooms if you are using them.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 1 ½ hours. Add onion and other vegetables if you are using them and cook for another ½ hour.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  I had intended to chop up the rib meat and add it to the soup, but even after long cooking they were too fatty. This makes about 5 servings of soup, at about 4 grams of fat/serving.  This soup went right into the freezer to take for lunches.



I have lost 200 pounds. I did not do it through surgery – I don’t like knives and needles – or by joining a club, vigorous exercise, or rigorous dieting. I did it by gourmet cooking. To be precise, by cooking low fat, really delicious food. I love to cook as much as I love to eat. Food magazines are some of my favorite reading. I would feel deprived if I couldn’t have the sensuous experience of good food crossing my lips. This blog is about my perpetual feast, my passionate love of food, with recipes, photos, and occasional advice and principles that I have learned along the way.

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