A very different Christmas speciality for the night before Christmas when it's traditional not to eat meat in Italy. It is a rustic, simple and tasty dish, consisting of stuffed cabbage leaves stewed in tomato sauce, from the province of Parma. Serve 4–5 each as a starter, or as a vegetarian main course with salad.
Soak the stale bread in the milk for about 10 minutes. Wash the cabbage leaves. Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the cabbage leaves for about 8 minutes, then drain them and lay them out flat on a worktop. Choose the
Squeeze the bread dry, mix with the Parmesan cheese, eggs, dried breadcrumbs and season generously. Stir in the chopped cabbage.
Spoon a little of the mixture on to each of the cabbage leaves. Fold in the sides and roll up to make a parcel, then secure it with fine string or thread.
Heat half the oil and butter in a pan and fry the parcels to seal them on all sides. Remove from the pan and set aside. Using the remaining oil and butter, fry the onion until transparent, then add the sieved tomatoes and the paste. Stir and cook for about 15 minutes until thick and enriched, adding a little stock if necessary.
Lay the fried parcels in the sauce and cover. Cook slowly for 1 hour, adding stock if the sauce starts to dry out. Remove the string before serving piping hot.
© 1995 Valentina Harris. All rights reserved.