This week I was thrilled to find an ingredient in my local supermarket that I didn’t think was possible to find in Korea. I have heard friends rave about the pure awesomeness of quinoa, but didn’t know what all the fuss was about. Well thanks to the Cooking in Korea Facebook page, I did find out that it is available and went into the store ready with a photograph of the bag on my phone. I was prepared to ask for help if I could not find it, but I did with a little searching. I was a bit put off by the fact that it cost over 16,000 won (around $16), but I bought the small bag anyway.
I came across a recipe several weeks ago for cabbage rolls, and the idea intrigued me, although I am trying to use less and less beef in my cooking. It is very expensive in Korea, and a few more weight watchers points. I have stuffed peppers with couscous, I figured why not stuff cabbage with quinoa? It was worth a try!
I started before work today by throwing three chicken breasts, 5 cups of water, a tablespoon of thyme, a few tablespoons of Herb ox non sodium chicken bouillon and a tablespoon of garlic into the crock pot on low to cook all day. When I came home, I took the chicken out and shredded it, and strained the chicken broth.
I dismantled a head of cabbage by cutting off the bottom and taking off all the outer leaves. I discarded the outer layer, as it was really starting to wilt and change colors, but as soon as I got pat the first layer, it looked fine. Once had about 8 leaves, I chopped up the rest, first horizontally, then vertically to dice the leftover cabbage (too small to get a good wrap from).
I put a pot on to boil with water, and then I boiled the large leaves for about three minutes.
Once the three minutes was up, I promptly strained and rinsed the leaves with cold water in the sink
Next I filled the pot up with the chicken broth, starting with four cups, and once it was boiled,I put in the quinoa. I chopped up some grape tomatoes, and threw those in too. After most of the water had been soaked up, I added in the chicken, garlic, the left over cabbage, and the rest of the chicken stock. I washed up about two cups of spinach, and once all of the liquid was soaked up, and the quinoa was finished, I turned off the flame, threw in the spinach. I knew it would wilt a bit, but I didn’t want to be over cooked.
It looked like this when it was done.
I added a little salt, and lemon pepper to taste, and some lime juice to taste as well.
Next I pulled out the leaves, and one by one stuffed five of them (all my pan would hold)
I basically folded over the top, and rolled it like a burrito with the bottom side open. if the rib was really thick, like in the inner leaves, I cut a triangle into the rib to get the thick part out. This is what they looked like all rolled up. You put the seams on the bottom, so they don’t roll open at all.
Next, you take a can of tomatoes, I had diced tomatoes, and you put them in a frying pan for a second with a bit of dried basil and garlic. If you have crushed or pureed, you don’t need to do the next step, but as I was aiming for a QUICK tomato sauce, I used a potato masher, and mashed the diced tomatoes until I came up with a sauce.
The quick cook and mash really brought it together pretty well.
Next you spoon the sauce over the cabbage rolls. I did a pretty line over the top, then filled in the rest on the sides for some liquid for the rolls to bake in.
The next step we didn’t realize we should do until after this first batch was made, but sprinkle some mozzarella or Parmesan over the top. It needed a little something, and cheese was it!
Next I baked it for about 20 minutes in a 175 degree C oven (350 degrees F).
It came out looking pretty good, except the inside was pretty monochromatic
I had heard that quinoa was rather filling, so I did not serve any side dishes with this. I tried some bread, but it had hairy mold on it…so I went for a package of crackers. I know quinoa is a grain, so I should not need bread, but it felt more like a vegetable while eating it.
I ate two cabbage rolls and my husband ate three, and that was it, we were done with dinner.
Now here is where this post gets really fun! I bet you thought I was done huh?
I had no idea that quinoa would blow up three times larger than what I started with! I was told to cook it like rice, and rice usually expands two times, so if you cook one cup, with two cups of water, you usually get two cups of rice. I was expecting that. I was not expecting to have it blow up THREE TIMES LARGER!!!!! I used two cups, not knowing how much I would need, and I got 6 cups of quinoa, plus all the extras I had added to it! I still needed to pack lunches for tomorrow, and was almost out of cabbage leaves to bake another batch. I got three more baked, having had to make a bit more tomato sauce. Knowing that was probably my husband’s lunch, I knew I needed something as well. Since I was out of cabbage leaves, I turned to the nice beefy tomatoes I had bought the other day and almost forgotten about.
I hallowed out three of them by slicing off the top, and using a paring knife to cut around and then into the core and eventually cut the centers out of the tomatoes. Then I filled them with more of the quinoa filling, topped them off with the tomato sauce, and a bit of mozzarella cheese. I baked them the same amount of time on the same heat settings, making the only real difference was the pan I baked them in. I baked them in a muffin tin!
the bottoms may have cooked a little more than the tops simply because they were surrounded by the hot pan, and there was no ventilation in there, but overall they turned out really good! I decided to make one extra for my husband to snack on, just in case he needed it, so I made four in total.
I actually probably have enough filling for 4-5 more of them! So if you follow the recipe like me, you will have enough filling for 8 cabbage rolls, and 8 stuffed tomatoes. This recipe was HUGE!
The best part is, each serving (one tomato or roll), is only 3 weight watchers points. Maybe four if you count the cheese.
Tomorrow I will be figuring out what else to do with pre-cooked quinoa filling, as I still have a ton of it left!