This dish comes from the Val Taro area in the province of Parma where it is eaten on Christmas Eve. As it is a magro (lean) dish containing no meat, it is suitable for such important holy days. I don’t know why one is supposed to make exactly 27 of these on Christmas Eve. However, it is part of the local tradition; and around Christmas time all local traditions, including the pagan ones, are upheld. Serve it for lunch or supper with a tomato salad.
Wash and trim the cabbage leaves. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, toss in the leaves and simmer for 8 minutes. Meanwhile, cover the stale bread with the milk and leave it to soak. Drain the cabbage leaves, select the 27 best ones and lay them out flat on a work-surface. Chop the remaining leaves finely.
Remove the bread from the milk, squeeze it dry in your hand and put it in a bowl. Add the Parmesan, eggs, fresh breadcrumbs, a little salt and pepper and the chopped cooked cabbage and mix well. Spoon about 1 heaped tablespoon of the mixture on to each cabbage leaf. Roll up and close the leaves and secure with cook’s string or wooden cocktail sticks.
© 1990 Valentina Harris. All rights reserved.