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Tempeh Stuffed Cabbage

If you’re not familiar with tempeh, this dish offers a tasty introduction. Made of whole, fermented soybeans, tempeh is higher in protein and  fiber than tofu, with a dense, chewy texture. Tempeh is versatile: marinate and grill it, cube and  fry it, or crumble it and use in place of ground beef. Its earthy flavor pairs well with mushrooms and winter vegetables.

Tempeh Stuffed Cabbage

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1 cup sliced mushrooms (portobello or white)
8 ounces tempeh, crumbled into bite-sized pieces
2 Tablespoons tamari
1 cup vegetable broth or water
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Green cabbage, 8 large leaves*
1½ cups tomato sauce (your favorite, or see below)

Sauté the onion in olive oil over medium heat until soft. Add garlic, celery, and carrot, and sauté 4-5 minutes. Add mushrooms and tempeh. Toss in pan for 2-3 minutes until mushrooms are soft. Add tamari, broth, thyme, oregano, salt, and pepper. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat.

Preheat oven to 400°F.

If cabbage leaves are not pliable, soften them by steaming or immersing them in boiling water for 60 seconds. Working on a large flat surface, scoop 3 Tablespoons of the tempeh mixture onto the firm end of each cabbage leaf. Fold the sides of the cabbage leaf around the tempeh, then roll it up toward the open end.

Place the rolls with the seam facing down in a single layer in a baking dish. Top with tomato sauce and bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

Serves 4.

*The easiest way to peel off individual cabbage leaves is to remove the cabbage’s tough core and steam the whole head for 3-4 minutes in a covered pot with an inch of boiling water. The outer leaves should then be soft enough to pull away intact.

Tangy Tomato Sauce
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
14-ounce can chopped tomatoes, drained
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried basil
¼ red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Sauté the garlic in olive oil over medium heat until it becomes fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, vinegar, oregano, basil, red pepper, salt, and black pepper. Lower the heat and simmer 15 minutes, breaking tomatoes apart with the back of the spoon. Purée if desired.

Makes approximately 1½ cups.

Mary Lake is a writer, teacher, columnist for MF&L, and vegetarian blogger: Mitten Machen.

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