A Day in the Kitchen: Vegan Pierogi and Cabbage Roll Inspiration

My husband and I went to VegFest in Vancouver. B.C. this weekend and visited a great new spot with raw and vegan fare – Inddigo. We had vegan cabbage rolls and pierogi, which were such a treat! They’re not something I think of making often, but I was so inspired that I decided to make them for a dinner party we had this week – for 9 (including 3 boys aged 11-15). Needless to say, our house was like a cabbage roll and pierogi-making factory yesterday. It was a great way to put the cooking skills I have been learning over the past months into practice as I made up my own versions of pretty much everything, save the pierogi dough.

The finished products were amazing, and although we made about 65 pierogi and 40 cabbage rolls, we had very little left! I found some great tips along the way that made the process easier, so I’ll share them, along with the process.

Making Cabbage Rolls

(Keep in mind I was making a HUGE batch of cabbage rolls so you may want to half the amounts of the recipes – I don’t think there should be a problem with doing that for any of this.)

Tip: 1-2 days before you are going to start making cabbage rolls, put the whole cabbage in the freezer. The night before you are going to make them, defrost it. This made the rolling SOOOO much easier – this is a tip I will keep for sure!!

#1 Make the Rice

I used short grain brown rice for part of the filling, so I soaked it overnight, and then pressure cooked it with a pinch of salt in the morning to make sure it would be a bit sticky. I made 2.5 cups of dry rice (about 4 cups cooked).

#2 Make the Sauce

cb1_makingsauce_sm

I did this first thing in the morning, to get it out of the way and make sure it was ready. I slow cooked the vegetables to make sure they had lots of time to develop their flavours. It was delicious, and would have also been good served over pasta or something like that! Anyway, here’s the recipe:

  • 2 large onions
  • 1 clove elephant garlic
  • 7 roma tomatoes
  • 1/2 butternut squash
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (796 ml)
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp spike gourmet seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste

Once the veggies were all nice and soft, I pureed them in the food processor to make a sauce.

#3 Chop up your seitan/veggie ground round/field roast sausage

cb2_cuttingupseitan_sm

I had some seitan steeped in Braggs and spices left over, so I used that for half the batch, and I chopped up 4 field roast sausages for the other half. I really preferred the seitan, so I’ll do that again next time – and it was less processed, which is always good. Anyway, chop up whatever protein you are including in the food processor (about 2 cups), and then mix it in with your rice, along with about 1.5 cups of fried onions (if you are avoiding oil, onions sautéed in water would work fine here).

#4 Peel and dry the cabbage leaves

cb3_frozencabbage_sm

This was so cool! I have made cabbage rolls before and just tried to peel the leaves off the raw cabbage – it’s an exercise in frustration! This worked like a charm…the defrosted cabbage was pliable and hardly tore at all. The leaves were easy to work with.

#5 Start rolling!

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I am not always the tidiest cook, but I found it very helpful to be organized and tidy during this process – here is my workstation.

cb5_rolling_sm

#6 Set them into your casserole dish

cb6_readyforsauce_smThey should be snug against each other – and another TIP I found was to lay out extra cabbage along the bottom of the dish as a bed for the cabbage rolls to sit on to prevent sticking – also worked well! I made 2 casseroles like this – if you have a deep casserole dish, you can just layer  – layer of rolls, layer of sauce, layer of rolls, layer of sauce…

#7 Smother in sauce

cb7_readytogo_smNote: I left my sauce a little chunky, and it was great, but next time I might puree it a little longer and make it a little more liquid-y, in keeping with a more traditional type of cabbage roll sauce.

Bake, covered, at 350F for 2 hours.

*I made these in the morning, then covered them and put them in the oven until I was ready to cook them.

Making Pierogi

Next, I started on the pierogi. I had made the filling the night before – and this turned out to be a great idea since using cool filling really helped in the rolling process. My filling consisted of onion, garlic, potato and spike gourmet seasoning all mashed together. I pressure cooked it in water to make sure it was nice and soft for mashing (and added soy milk during the mashing process).

I have to credit Isa Chandra Moskowitz and PPK for her help with this part. I used her dough recipe, and it was perfect! Rather than re-inventing the wheel, here’s the link to her post.

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A wine glass worked great for cutting out the circles.

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Fortunately my husband got home in time to help me with the stuffing and boiling part!

p4_rolling_smRolling up a perfect little pierogi – once you got into the swing of it, it was a cinch!

p5_boiling_sm

Boiling for 4 minutes. One of the things we realized is that if you can avoid air pockets, it stops them from bursting open in the boiling stage – that happened to just a couple of ours, but the air pockets were the reason, I’m pretty sure.

p6_ready_sm

Ready to go! We served them up with sauerkraut, vegan sour cream and carmelized onions. Here’s what the finished meal looked like:

finishedmeal_sm

 

 

 

 

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