It wasn't long ago that you'd see me pulling off dill pickles from my veggie burger or turning my nose up at my grandma's pickled cucumbers. But not any longer, I'm a born-again pickled-food lover and juicy pickles & sauerkraut are at the top of that list.
It's all thanks, of course, to that pesky, Polski boyfriend of mine. Dumplings filled with cream cheese you say? A soup that's 99% beets? I don't think I had even taste a fresh beet before I met him and over the years, more than anything, he's changed and enriched my palate. (I like to think I've done the same for him, considering his move to more healthy, vegetarian fare).
So what's a girl to do when she gets a craving for some good 'ol meat-heavy Polish comfort food? Veganize it, of course! I'm determined to prove that Polish food can be just as good (well, nearly) without all the animal sacrifices. It all began with a Borscht... the first attempt turned out too terrible to eat (then again, it was also my first soup attempt and I tried winging it in under an hour... no good).
Second attempt, Borscht number two! Still came out bland and watery. My reliance on the beef-based soup recipe just wouldn't cut it, so in the third and most recent attempt I used maximum veggie-power, a good vegetable broth, and gave it plenty of hours to stew in its out delicious red juices. The outcome? Perfection. Well almost, I'm going to tweak it one last time before posting the recipe, but you can gaze longingly at this picture until then.
Moving on to last week's dinner, Galumpkies filled with quinoa mix and baked in tomato sauce. I apologize for the especially bad picture reminiscent of a cheap Mexican menu photo (I'm thinking it might be the case that if you have no good photograph to show, don't show one at all). I'm not sure if I mentioned, but a few weeks ago my camera died (and a bit of me with it). I think it a good thing though because I'm now getting a real DSLR for Christmas! But yes, that is the reason for this low-quality camera phone picture. No worries though, I rounded up Toni's camera with some new batteries and I'm back in business with...
Sauerkraut sandwiches! I've walk passed this sauerkraut every time I popped into the grocery store, and every time I did all I could to resist its temptation... today I caved and got some fresh (gluten-free!) rye bread and spicy mustard to go with. Paired with fresh spinach and a hemping mound of sauteed onions, I was in heaven!
Now I've supplied the recipes for these last two here below, but if I were you I'd make the adjustments I couldn't and that is in trying out how some sort of meat (particularly sausage) substitute might go in these dishes. I'm waiting because I'm trying to fine tune a from scratch version. Either way, these cultural classics are delectable. Once I'm home over winter break I'm veganizing the perogies!
So what have we learned from this whole affair? A word to the wise, don't knock your boyfriend's odd eating habits too quickly, you may find out you actually like (LOVE) 'em.
Savory Baked Galumpkies
* 1 large onion, diced
* 2 T, canola oil
* 3 cloves garlic, minced & pressed
* 2 cups quinoa, cooked in vegetable broth
* 2 large carrots, peeled & roughly chopped
* 2 T, pepper
* 2 t, raw pink Himalayan salt
* 1 t, ground cumin
* 1/2 t, garlic salt
* 8-10 large savory cabbage leaves
* 2 cans sieved tomatoes (regular tomato sauce will do)
1. In a frying pan, heat canola oil over medium, then add the onions. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until soft & translucent, approximately 2-3 minutes. Add 1 of the garlic cloves and saute for about 30 seconds more or until just fragrant. Remove from heat.
2. Add chopped carrots to a microwave safe bowl with a tablespoon water. Place a microwave-safe tupperware lid over the bowl (so steam can still escape) and microwave on high for approximately 3 minutes or until almost soft.
3. In a large bowl, mix cooked quinoa, onions & garlic (with oil), carrots, & additional raw garlic cloves. Add 1 T pepper, 1 t salt, cumin & garlic salt; mix well.
4. Using a sharp pairing knife, cut a triangle at the bottom of each savory cabbage leaf to remove most of the hard stem.
5. In a large pot, bring 2 cups water to a boil and add the savory cabbage leafs, boiling lightly for approximately 3-5 minutes or until malleable.
6. Pre-heat oven to 300F and get a large casserole dish ready by pouring a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom.
7. Now for the fun part, rolling your cabbage rolls! Depending on the size of your leafs, you may need more or less, but add approximately 4 T of the quinoa mixture to the inside of your leaf and compress it together in the middle. To roll it, fold in the two bottom flaps (where you made the incision) so the is no hole between them and then fold the bottom over onto the top until tightly rolled.
7. Place your cabbage roll into the casserole dish with the flap on the bottom. Do this for all your cabbage rolls. Pour the rest of the cans of tomato sauce over each cabbage roll and sprinkle remaining salt and pepper on top. Bake for approximately an hour, or until the cabbage is soft. Enjoy!
Quick & Easy Sauerkraut Sandwich (pair it with a side of fried potatoes!)
* 1 medium onion, sliced into rings (roughly)
* 2 tablespoons canola oil
* 4 large slices fresh rye bread
* 2 tablespoon spice mustard
* 1/2 cup fresh spinach
* 1/2 cup sauerkraut
1. Heat canola oil over medium then add onions rings. Saute on medium-low until soft and translucent, approximately 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.
2. On two slices of rye bread, spread a tablespoon of spicy mustard.
3. Add 1/2 of the spinach to each sandwich
4. Add 1/2 of the sauerkraut to each sandwich.
5. Divide the onions up, topping each sandwich with 1/2 the amount.
6. Add the final rye slice to each & enjoy! I recommend pairing this with some fried pepper-spiced potato cubes.