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Risotto Wrapped in Cabbage Leaves

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

The valley of the Po River; which runs clear across northern Italy, still grows the short-grain rice that gave today’s gastronomic world risotto but for centuries gave the region a subsistence grain and a subsistence living. This recipe yields the kind of family dinner that would make a bit of meat go a long way. It’s subtle and quiet in flavor, like so much true Italian food, letting you enjoy the soft fullness of the fully cooked rice and cabbage.

Serves6 to 8 as a first course

Cooking Methodpan-frying

CostInexpensive

Easy

Total Timeunder 1 hour

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together

Recipe Courseantipasto/mezze

Dietary Considerationegg-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free

Mealdinner

Taste and Texturecreamy, meaty

Ingredients

  • 16 cabbage leaves
  • ½ cup Arborio rice
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons, plus ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, preferably Ligurian
  • 5 ounces ground veal
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Flour for dredging

Instructions

  1. In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the cabbage until tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain and set aside.

  2. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Add the rice and a generous pinch of salt and cook until the rice is tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.

  3. Heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil in a sauté pan or skillet over high heat. Add the veal, season with a pinch of salt, and cook until the meat browns, about 5 minutes. In a medium bowl, combine the veal, rice, eggs, cheese, a pinch of salt, and a generous amount of black pepper. Stir thoroughly until it forms a smooth mixture.

  4. Pat the cabbage leaves dry and lay them out flat on a work surface. Trim away the tough mid-rib at the base of each leaf, if necessary. Put 1 tablespoon of the veal mixture in the center of each leaf. Fold the sides of the leaves toward the center and roll up from the bottom.

  5. Lightly dredge each cabbage roll in flour. Heat the ¼ cup olive oil in a large sauté pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cabbage rolls and fry on both sides until golden brown. Serve hot.

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