August 18, 2015

Chefs cooking for their families on rare nights off face a delicate balancing act. They need to serve food that both kids and adults will love, and without so much work that it feels like, well, work. North Carolina star chef Andrea Reusing (The Durham Hotel, Lantern) has it all figured out: Her stuffed cabbage rolls deliver convenience for the cook and family-friendly comfort food for the table.

Reusing says she can assemble the dish quickly in the morning, then bake it around dinnertime. "It's superhomey, and rich and satisfying, but there are still a lot of vegetables in it." In fact, Reusing sometimes fires up a vegetarian version, subbing in more rice and veggies for the beef.

It's a clever way to work nutrient-rich cabbage into a kid's diet, and for Reusing, it was an easy sell from the start for her son, 7, and daughter, 11. "It's enough like manicotti that they kind of took to it right away."

Reusing prefers Savoy cabbage in this dish. "The Savoy is beautiful. The leaves are a little thinner, with great color," she says. Savoy leaves are also more tender and slightly sweeter than other cabbage varieties.

Part of what makes the dish such a winner is that Reusing treats the cabbage respectfully. "The key to cabbage is not letting it steam for an insanely long time," she says, because overcooked cabbage turns unpleasantly funky.

Look for Reusing's original version in September at her new restaurant at The Durham Hotel in Durham, North Carolina.

STUFFED SAVOY CABBAGE WITH TOMATO SAUCEHands-on: 35 min. Total: 1 hr. 20 min.Fresh dill brightens the flavor and color of this recipe. For convenience, you can assemble the dish and refrigerate up to one day before serving.

1 large head Savoy cabbage (about 2 pounds), cored3 tablespoons olive oil, divided1 yellow onion, finely chopped1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped4 garlic cloves, minced2.5 ounces fresh Parmesan cheese, divided1 cup cooked white rice5 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh dill, divided1 tablespoon grated lemon rind1 teaspoon kosher salt½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper2/3 pound 85% lean ground beef1 large egg, lightly beaten3 cups strained tomatoes (such as Pomì)

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Cook whole head of cabbage in a large pot of boiling water for 2 minutes. Cool slightly. Remove softened outer leaves, keeping them whole; reserve leaves. Return cabbage head to pot, and repeat procedure to get 12 leaves. Finely chop remaining cabbage.

3. Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil. Add onion; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Increase heat to medium-high. Add 2 cups chopped cabbage, carrot, and garlic; sauté 4 minutes. Remove from heat; cool slightly.

4. Finely grate 2 ounces cheese. Combine grated cheese, rice, ¼ cup dill, lemon rind, salt, pepper, beef, egg, and chopped cabbage mixture; stir gently.

5. Combine remaining 2 tablespoons oil and strained tomatoes, stirring with a whisk. Spread 1 cup tomato mixture evenly in bottom of a 13 × 9–inch baking dish. Shave the rib of each cabbage leaf with a paring knife or vegetable peeler so it lies flat. Place ½ cup meat mixture in the center of each cabbage leaf. Starting at the core end, roll into a tight log, tucking in sides as you go. Place roll in baking dish, seam side down. Repeat with remaining leaves and filling. Top with remaining tomato mixture. Cover dish with foil; bake at 350° for 45 minutes. Uncover; shave remaining Parmesan cheese over top, and sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon dill.

SERVES 6 (serving size: 2 rolls)CALORIES 327; FAT 16.1g (sat 5.2g, mono 8.4g, poly 1.3g); PROTEIN 19g; CARB 28g; FIBER 7g; CHOL 73mg; IRON 3mg; SODIUM 588mg; CALC 205mg

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