01 May 2013

Cooking With Grains ... Cooking Light's Virtual Supper Club

Okay, so THIS is what sunlight does blasting down through my skylight onto the sauce base for today's dinner - Barley Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Pine Nuts and Currants. I'm drooling already, aren't you? Wait til you see this platter all decked out!

This month some genius (named Roz!) chose 'cooking with rice and grains' as the theme for the Virtual Supper Club's menu. What a great way to go! Really! Grains are such a ubiquitous presence in our diet, but they get a mixed reaction from many folks. In today's foodie world, there are those who are ditching glutens, trying to cut carbs, trying to increase fiber and complex carbs, trying to use grains in combination with vegetables to create protein alternatives to meats ... yeah, I could go on. As people try to alter their diets to fit their needs, there seem to be grains (and cereal products) that fit the specific need! Yup. Grains. They're everywhere!

That being said, I chose to work with barley, some nuts, some cheese, some currants, and some vegetables to make a cabbage roll that is pretty darn interesting! This is a sweet and nutty dish. I played fast and loose with the cabbage leaves (and the recipe, come to think of it!). I did my best to cut out the thick lower veins in the leaves, but if a leaf tore, tough nuts! I just wrapped that filling and folded things together, put the packet seam-side down and moved on!

I love the colors in this dish ... this barley stuffing is such a blend of soft browns. The greens of the cabbage leaves are different as you move from the outer part of the head towards the center. And then! That tomato sauce is so dark and vibrant ... I used tomato sauce that I canned last summer plus a can of fire-roasted tomatoes. I also subbed out the apple juice and cider vinegar and subbed in 2 tbsp. of honey and a pat of butter instead of the olive oil. I cooked the sauce down to deepen the color and flavour. The last substitute that I wish I didn't have to make was switching out the feta and replacing it with Fontina. SB, my beloved, detests feta cheese, so I opted for keeping him happy, as he is my 'go-to-guy' for chomping the leftovers. Know what I mean here?

The last little shift I made was to use the leftover barley stuffing to 'cushion' the rolls before drizzling the last of that tomato sauce over all. Oh, and then instead of cooking this dish in a slow cooker, I stuck three toothpicks in the center rolls, tented foil over the pottery platter and sealed everything tight. I baked the rolls at 225 degrees Farenheit for about an hour and a half. Then, I let them rest covered while I poached some hake fillets in a lemon and garlic white wine sauce - easy and basic. The stars of this show are these cabbage rolls, after all.

How gorgeous are these little babies ? You can see that you don't have to make them perfectly rolled ... they will collapse back on themselves as they cook down in the sauce.

Yeah - cooking with grains is not such a hard thing to do. Tastes pretty darn good. Can be healthy and not TOO caloric ... if you can stop at three rolls. Big IF, there.

I have included the link for the recipe up above in the first paragraph of the post ... check it out ... and enjoy!


  1. This dish makes me very happy Susan. It reminds me of living in Calgary where one of the local Ukranian churches made their cabbage rolls with barley. These seem so much more flavourful I want to head to grocers to buy a cabbage. In reality I am headed to the Food and Wine Writers Workshop to meet up with our fellow "Supper" Sarah.

    1. Oh! Have fun and learn lots! I have always wanted to attend a blogging or foodie seminar, but have never had the spare time (or the traveling budget) to attend one! Can't wait to hear from you about your experiences! So neat that you'll be meeting and working with Sarah!

  2. I remember cabbage rolls similar to this in Germany... That is comfort food!
    Love those 'babies!'

  3. Susan, this is almost exactly the same recipe I use when making stuffed grape leaves without the tomato sauce, of course. Sounds delicious.

  4. Great choice for this months dinner Susan! We make cabbage rolls every fall and freeze them and I generally add currants - it is a traditional preparation that many cooks leave out.

  5. Oh yum, I love stuffed cabbage but have never had it without hamburg and rice. I do like barley and enjoy the texture when you eat it. Doesn't SB know everything is betta with feta. LOL!! Great recipe and beautiful photos.

  6. These cabbage bundles are just gorgeous Susan! Way to go presenting a recipe that helps me learn a new preparation for a non-meat entree: stuffed cabbage! Love it! Roz

  7. Looks delicious and healthy. The grains are high in fiber. Now I'm hungry. hahaha


Anonymous comments will not be accepted. Please be aware that due to spamming concerns, I must be able to track back. Use your Google account ID to comment.