You will need a large shallow casserole dish with lid.Start by preparing the cabbage. Cut out the tough middle bit (about 3 cm deep). Place your cabbage in a large pot, fill with about 5-6 cm of water, cover and bring to boil. Then simmer for 10 minutes or until the leaves start separating.
Transfer the cabbage onto a plate or cutting board and separate the leaves from the top layer (using 2 forks and a knife). Place the cabbage back in the pot, simmer for a few more minutes and remove a few more leaves.Repeat this process until you have about 20 leaves. Don’t worry if some of them tear, you’ll be able to use them for lining the bottom of your casserole dish and covering the cabbage rolls.
Next slice off the thick middle bit from each leaf (the outer part of the leaf). Your leaves are now ready to be turned into cabbage rolls.
To make the sauerkraut cabbage rolls filling mixture start by boiling the rice a little al dente (it will finish cooking in the oven). Combine the rice with the water, add a little salt, cover and bring to the boil then lower the heat and cook until all the water has been absorbed. Remove from the heat and set aside.
While the rice is cooking prepare the mushrooms. Fry them in 1 tablespoon of oil for 6-7 minutes (season to taste) over a fairly high heat until all the moisture has disappeared and the mushrooms are lightly browned, stirring often. Remove from the heat and set aside.
In a large non-stick pan glaze the onion in 2 tablespoons of oil for about 3 minutes. Gently squeeze excess moisture from the sauerkraut, finely chop it and add to the pan along with the apricots. Cover and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Stir often to prevent browning.
Stir in the harissa, chutney, butter, cover and cook for 5 more minutes.Remove from the heat, combine with the rice, mushrooms and flaxseed, adjust the seasoning if needed (it should be quite spicy, but it will mellow in the cooking) and make the sauerkraut cabbage rolls.Note: If you are worried the filling mixture is not sticky enough you can puree a small amount (2-3 tbsp), using a stick blender, then combine it with the rest of the filling.(At this point preheat the oven to 350 F/ 180 C/ gas mark 4. Lightly grease and line the bottom of your casserole dish with leftover pieces of cabbage and set aside).
Form oval shapes using the stuffing mixture (pressing between the palms of your hands to ensure they hold their shape) and place inside the cabbage leaves. Fold in the longer sides and wrapthe stuffing in the leaf starting from the thick end of the leaf. Do this as tightly as you can tucking the mixture in with your fingers as you roll.
Place the cabbage rolls in your casserole dish (with the end of the cabbage leaf down) in a single layer as close together as possible. Dissolve the stock cubes in hot water, stir in the tomato puree and harissa and pour the mixture over the cabbage rolls.
Cover with leftover cabbage leaves, put the lid on (or cover tightly with tin foil) and bake in the centre of the oven for 1.5 hours. Remove from the oven and serve. Yields approx. 12 cabbage rolls.
Make sure you buy good quality sauerkraut. I thoroughly recommend getting it from a Polish deli, if possible.
Do NOT rinse sauerkraut (unless it’s overly salty). Good quality sauerkraut should not need to be rinsed.
Gently squeeze excess water out of the sauerkraut, but do not remove all the moisture completely.
Use harissa paste/sauce – NOT dried harissa seasoning. I also recommend ordinary harissa, not rose harissa.
Try not to cook the cabbage for too long as the leaves may become prone to splitting. They need to be pliable but not too tender.
You can boil the rice and fry the mushrooms ahead, and once cooled, refrigerate (overnight).
You can combine the filling ingredients while still warm.
If you are worried your filling is not sticky enough you can puree a very small amount (2-3 tbsp) using a stick blender, then combine it with the rest of the ingredients.
Taste the filling mixture and adjust the seasoning if needed before making the cabbage rolls.
Both the filling mixture as well as the tomato sauce may seem quite spicy to start with but the finished dish will be more mellow.
Use the larger cabbage leaves for making cabbage rolls and remaining leaves to line the dish and cover the cabbage rolls.
You can prepare the cabbage rolls ahead and refrigerate (without the tomato sauce) overnight. The next day pour in the tomato sauce and bake as per Instructions.
These sauerkraut cabbage rolls are delicious hot as well as cold. As with all cabbage rolls recipes they are even tastier the next day! Reheat individual portions in the microwave.
Freeze individual portions of cooked cabbage rolls in airtight containers. Defrost in the fridge overnight and reheat in the microwave.