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I love food. I love cooking. I love sharing food. It's the one gift you can give someone that they take inside of themselves and forever becomes a part of them. Food is more than fuel. It's a feeling, a memory, a cure, a gift, a toy..... My recipes aren't exact. There's room for substitutions, discovery, experimentation and play. Anything can be healthy with a few tweaks, or comforting with a few more. Many of my recipies are veggie friendly with just the omittance of meat, never lacking in flavour. The sky is the limit -Variety is the spice of life!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Low fat carb free chicken cabbage rolls

I have to confess....I have never made cabbage rolls before. And, oh my gosh. After this....I will be making them a lot more.
I'm used to making roulades, sushi, lumpia, spring rolls...but wrapping something in cabbage? When I am not dieting? Hmmm. It was a challenge accepted. Not only are they low fat, gluten free, low carb - they are delicious! Ok, and not the "settle for it" kind of delicious. I found a true way to your heart, dear eaters. Pure comfort food. That's Good For You. Got your attention now? Let's do this.
This recipe makes enough for 3 with an appetite, with plenty for leftovers. Depending on your pans, and cabbage - you can easily fill a 9x13 pan and maybe a pie pan. (For someone to take home, or for you to freeze.)
Or, make them thick and keep them all for you. Hey...I don't judge.

What you need

  • 2 pounds ground chicken
  • One head cauliflower
  • One head purple cabbage (Purple food rocks! High in flavonoids, antioxidants...they keep you young and sexy. {Ok, aka: they are powerfully charged with stuff that helps you age gracefully, keep your memory, avoid cancer, make your heart happy and...oh, they are yummy.})
  • A whole mess of baby spinach (three handfuls or so. No need to measure)
  • One round (10 oz) Queso Fresco (Spanish cheese...mmmm. Low fat....the Mozzerella of Spanish cheese. Flavor. No grease.)
  • 1 red bell pepper (or orange, or yellow. The green isn't as sweet as we would on)
  • About 1.5 pounds of tomato. (go all fresh, or you can grab a can or two, and still add some fresh....we will roast. Read on..) if you go canned, this is 3 small cans.
  • 1 yellow or white onion
  • A cup of stock
  • half head garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Star anise - half a star
  • Dried whole Spanish oregano (I know, I love the stuff. But it really makes a dish. It's less than a dollar an ounce, and the flavor is tremendous. Go for's in the cellophane bags in the Spanish section of your supermarket)
  • Salt and pepper (I like kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper)
  • Red pepper flakes

    Making the sauce
    Get whatever fresh ingredients you are using together in a pan for roasting. I opted for a large call of diced tomatoes, so I only roasted one bell pepper, my onion, the garlic and two tomatoes. Drizzle your favorite oil, a sprinkle of kosher salt, some oregano if you wish, and let them relax in an oven at 425.

    Get your ground chicken sautéing, add a little salt, pepper, oregano, and pepper flake. Puree the canned tomatoes and add to the pan. (Or skip if you have all fresh ingredients.)
    Once your roasted veg is ready - (the tomatoes will split, almost as if smiling), carefully chop them fine or prepare in a food processor, and get them in the pan too (save two cloves of roasted garlic for the "rice"). Add two handfuls of baby spinach and allow to wilt in. Taste the sauce and add more seasoning if need be, then it simmer nice and low while you make the rice...the sauce will be simple, but sweet from the pepper.

    Start your "rice"
    Cut your cauliflower into bits. Not too big, not too small...think dried elbow macaroni sized, if not a bit smaller. Sautée with oil of choice, (MCT, coconut, or even Pam. We impart flavor otherwise...)
    Add salt and pepper, your bay leaf, star anise, a few cloves of the roasted garlic, and a heavy sprinkling of crushed oregano. (Taste it! It should stand alone...) Don't let it cook all the way, sautée semi-high to get a sear and flavor. It should still have "tooth" to it. It will become a ninja that pretends to be rice. Set aside when done.

    Try to separate your cabbage into leaves as big as possible. Even if you have smaller pieces, don't fret. It all tastes lovely. Place them in a large pan with a bit of stock, add a lid, and allow to steam till a little soft. Not mushy, but not to firm. Purple cabbage holds on to it's great texture, so it's an easy candidate for this process. I also discovered that my dog fancies it as well. Isn't that strange? Silly dog.
    Once your cabbage is done, get yourself a baking dish. Start with a piece of cabbage, some sauce, and a couple cubes of quest fresco.

    Roll like a lazy burrito. (ends not tucked in). If you have small pieces of cabbage, just layer them together, and place seam side down.

    Continue, then top with sauce, chunks of queso fresco, and more spinach.

    Bake this bad boy at 425 til the cheese browns. Serve and enjoy!
    The leftovers are so didn't even make lunch....had it for breakfast the next day ;)

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