My childhood memories of stuffed cabbage are not happy. Heavy, dull and indigestible, their name, holishkes, made me think I was being forced to eat rubbery galoshes. This vegetarian version has made me reconsider, though I am still tempted to keep the sour cream and hold the rest. Any cabbage will do - savoy looks prettiest, but green or sweetheart arguably tastes better.
● 8 large cabbage leaves
● 3 tbsp rapeseed oil
● 1 medium onion, finely chopped
● Half a celery stick, finely chopped
● 1 tsp dried mixed herbs
● 50g uncooked rice
● 50g brown mushrooms, chopped into small pieces
● 20-25g ready-to-eat dried apricots, roughly chopped
● 20-25g walnuts, chopped
● 400ml tomato sauce
● Sour cream (optional)
● Preheat oven to 180˚C. Remove the tough stalk from the leaves at the point where they were attached to the stem. Don't cut away too much or they will be hard to roll.
● Plunge the leaves into boiling salted water for a minute, until they just start to wilt. Drain and refresh under cold running water. Drain well and pat dry.
● Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the onion and fry for 5 minutes until it starts to soften. Add the celery, the mushrooms and mixed herbs and gently fry for 5 minutes. Stir in the rice for a minute, so the grains start to gleam, then add the apricots and walnuts. Season to taste.
● Spoon a little stuffing onto a cabbage leaf, fold in the sides and roll up to enclose the filling. Place in a single layer in a large, oiled shallow oven-proof dish with the join underneath. Pour over the tomato sauce to just cover the rolls, add water or stock if necessary.
● Cover the dish tightly with foil, bake for 1 hour. Uncover and bake for 15 minutes more.
● Serve, if wished, with sour cream - and who wouldn't?