Unlike most stuffed cabbage dishes, these bundles are not at all heavy or rich; they are quite light, thanks to the addition of fresh Ricotta to the stuffing. I’ve never been a big fan of stuffed cabbage in tomato sauce, so I cook these bundles with a splash of homemade chicken or beef broth and plenty of sliced onions for sweetness.
Roasting the bundles covered for the majority of the cooking time keeps them nice and moist; uncovering them and raising the oven temperature in the last few minutes gives them a glorious browned top and crunchy exterior that contrasts nicely with the tender inner layers.
Serve 3 bundles per person as a main course, or just one per person as a palate-teaser at the start of a meal. The bundles can be assembled a day before roasting; pour on the broth just before slipping them into the oven.
Serves 2 as a main course, 6 as an appetizer
- 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 6 large Savoy cabbage leaves (preferably outer leaves)
- ¼ pound fresh whole-milk Ricotta
- ¼ pound lean ground pork shoulder
- ¼ cup (1 ounce) freshly grated Pecorino Romano
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ cup minced Italian parsley
- ½ teaspoon ground fennel seeds
- ¼ teaspoon chili flakes
- ½ cup chicken or beef broth
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees (preferably set on convection). Brush a 9-inch round pyrex baking dish with the olive oil. Place the onion in the dish. Season with ¼ teaspoon of the salt and 1/8 teaspoon of the pepper; toss well and set aside.
Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Add the cabbage leaves; cook 3 minutes, or until the cabbage leaves are tender and pliable. Rinse under cool water and drain well, then gently blot dry.
In a bowl, stir together the Ricotta, pork, Pecorino, garlic, parsley, fennel seeds, chili, ¼ teaspoon of the salt, and the remaining 1/8 teaspoon of pepper.
Arrange the cabbage leaves in a single layer on a large sheet of parchment paper on the counter. Place one-sixth of the pork mixture on the lower part of each cabbage leaf. Wrap each leaf around the filling, first bringing up the bottom, then folding over each of the two sides.
Roll each into a neat bundle. Place seam side down in the dish on top of the onions. Pour in the broth and season the top with the remaining ¼ teaspoon of salt.
Cover with aluminum foil or parchment paper and roast in the preheated oven 30 minutes. Uncover, raise the oven temperature to 425 (preferably set on convection), and roast until golden brown and crisped on top, about 5 more minutes. Serve hot, spooning the pan juices and onions over the cabbage bundles.