You know how you sometimes get a craving for food from your childhood, even though it’s not exotic, exquisite, elaborate, etc? With me, that craving is for Ukrainian food.
Holubtsi (cabbage rolls), perohi a.k.a. perogies (filled dumplings) and kielbasa (garlic sausage) were ubiquitous at family gatherings… on my mum’s side, at least. The cabbage rolls were sometimes vegetarian, and other times contained bits of ground cow or bacon. The perogies were almost always vegetarian, save for the odd bit of bacon that sometimes found its way into the potato perogies.
Wanting to recapture some of the flavours of my youth, but not feeling up to a marathon cooking session, I decided to make cabbage rolls yesterday.
I followed this recipe loosely. I poured boiling water over the cabbage to soften the leaves (instead of steaming). I sauteed the onions in vegan margarine, cooked white basmati rice until “al dente”, omitted the meat (obviously), and added a few slices of veggie bacon. To season the filling, I used smoked salt to enhance the smoky flavour of the bacon, along with freshly ground pepper. You really do need to over-season the filling, because the cabbage leaves diminish the flavour quite a bit.
I don’t think I’ve ever cooked cabbage rolls for two hours before, but doing so made them really tender. Yumm. They were served with pidpenyok (mushrooms with sour cream), based on this recipe, roast potatoes and salad.
Next I’ll be tackling perogies. The wait for vegan kielbasa may be a long one, though!