Last week, I began cooking and freezing for Pesach (Passover). With the furious and beautiful backdrop of a March snowstorm, I prepared most of my main dishes for the week of Passover.
It may sound a bit compulsive, but this just helps me manage the fury and beauty of the Passover holiday.
We travel to Israel for the holiday where we have a tiny kitchen and doll-sized appliances. The smallness of the food preparation facilities stand in direct contrast to the number of guests and family members that join us for the Passover seder and meals.
I have discovered that cooking the main dishes in advance really takes the edge off of the frenzy of Erev Pesach (Passover eve) and helps our family enjoy the beautiful surroundings of Jerusalem with some measure of serenity.
It certainly helps me appreciate the purity of the holiday and the freshness of the spring season. It allows me to focus on the theme of this holiday that is so central to Judaism. I can savor the beautiful traditions of Pesach, all to remind us of the birth of the Jewish nation as we miraculously left Egypt so many centuries ago.
Many women note that they feel enslaved by the enormity and difficulty of Passover cooking and that reminds them more than anything at the seder of the bondage of Jewish nation in Egypt. I would rather celebrate the freedom from slavery by planning ahead and leaving time and energy to enjoy the traditions and themes of Passover. It makes for a better me and it allows me to enjoy this wonderful spring holiday.
I have been making stuffed cabbage for many, many years. Traditionally, rice is used as a filler. Jews of Ashkenazic (Eastern European) origin do not eat rice on Passover while those of Sephardic (originally from Iberian Peninsula) background eat certain types of rice during the holiday. For this use, you can either substitute quinoa for the rice or skip the rice altogether.
Last year, I did not prepare my cooktop for Passover advance cooking so I was unable to boil the heads of cabbage. Instead, I froze the heads of cabbage and found it to be a simpler way to prepare the cabbage leaves for stuffing. Best of all, it meant one less pot to clean at the end. So, this year I wouldn’t prepare my cabbage leaves any other way.
Stuffed cabbage is one of those menu items that takes some time, but makes enough for many meals. This year’s stuffed cabbage made enough for two Passover meals with some extras to deliver to some of my friends for their Passover meals.
Stuffed cabbage freezes so well. The cabbage rolls can be frozen either with or without the suace. I freeze the cabbage rolls in freezer bags and just take out as many as needed for the next meal.
2 heads of cabbage
2 pounds ground beef
1/2 cup potato starch
1/2 Passover crumbs
1 cup quinoa (optional)
1-2 onions, grated or diced small
2-3 garlic cloves or 2 tablespoons minced or granulated garlic
1 small can of tomato sauce or paste
1 squirt of ketchup
sweet and sour sauce
2 cans tomato sauce
2/3 cup sugar or honey
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup raisins or craisins (optional)
Wood and Silicone Spatula
jumbo zipper bags
Carefully remove the first 4-6 leaves of the cabbage and freeze the cabbage for at least 12 hours.
Defrost cabbage for several hours and/or microwave the frozen cabbage heads in 4 minute increments until leaves are soft and pliable enough to remove from head.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
In large mixing bowl or extra large ziploc bag, combine all meat batter ingredients, kneading until just combined. Be careful not to overmix.
Using a Wood and Silicone Spatula, press a golf ball size of meat batter into each cabbage leaf. Roll soft cabbage leaf around meat, tucking ends under. Place cabbage rolls seam side down in baking dish or pan.
Cut leftover cabbage into bite size pieces and toss among the cabbage rolls.
Prepare sauce by combining all ingredients and heating in sauce pan or microwave. Pour sweet and sour sauce over cabbage rolls.
Bake tightly covered for 90 minutes.
You can use any combination of ground veal, ground lamb, ground chicken and/or ground turkey.
Double or triple the meatball batter and use to make meatloaf, meat muffins and baked meatballs.
Mixing the meatball batter by hand is best, but if you would rather not, use a jumbo zipper bag instead. Just place all ingredients inside bag and close zipper, releasing any air. Knead batter from the outside of the bag.
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