Apr 16 2011

The Bad Girls Book Club

Published by Christine at 3:00 am under Vegetarian

I’ve been a member of the Bad Girls Book Club for a few years now. It is comprised of six of us, sometimes with an additional guest member, and we meet every 6 to 8 weeks or so. It used to be every month. Then we realized that half of us either hadn’t read the book or hadn’t finished it yet, and so we decided to give ourselves a little more time in between meetings, so we could all enjoy our reading and have something to talk about. Well, time makes little difference, it seems. At our last meeting, one of us had lost the book, and one was only about three-quarters of the way done. Our guest for the evening had not read it yet, but enjoyed herself anyway; that’s what the wine is for.

What can I get you?

Even with such a poor track record, we love getting together. We do talk about the books we read (eventually), and there’s always something good to eat and to drink on the table. It’s definitely a part of what binds us together: sharing laughs and talking about life while munching (and sipping) away. It’s one of the great joys of life when you are able to do this on a regular basis with wonderful people. It’s times like these I feel fortunate.

Deciding on what to serve was a bit of a challenge. Because the book we (sort of) read this time around had an 80s vibe to it, I thought perhaps I should serve 80s-themed food. Baked brie and Tab soda, anyone? Not really in the mood for any of that, I settled on some things I thought everyone might enjoy. Lentil salad (for my friend Deb, who is a true fan), and stuffed cabbage. The rest would be pot-luck, as it always is.

I had seen a recipe for stuffed cabbage by Mark Bittman that I knew was wonderful (because my friend Mary had made it for us once before), but being in a meatless mood – as I usually am, last weekend’s boeuf bourguignon not withstanding – I opted for a vegetarian version. It’s really not very hard to convert stuffed-anything into a vegetarian meal: replace the bulk of the meat with a legume or starch (lentils or rice are perfect), up the vegetable content, and voilà. That’s exactly what I did, and it came out quite well. Light yet satisfying, with just enough of a bite from the rice to give it texture. Perfect for a light lunch or a side dish.

I’m looking forward to our next book club meeting. I know some of us will not have read the book in its entirety (heck, we don’t even know what we’re reading yet), but I know there will be good company, good food, and good wine. What else matters?


Vegetarian Stuffed Cabbage


1 head savoy cabbage
2 cloves chopped garlic
1 medium onion
3 medium carrots
2 small zucchinis
1/2 tsp thyme
a few Tbs olive oil
1.5 cup short- or medium-grain rice
1 can tomatoes (whole or crushed)
4 Tbsp butter
1/2 to 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
sea salt and pepper to taste

Separate the cabbage leaves (you should get about a dozen good-sized ones), rinse and blanch in boiling water for one minute. Drain and rinse in cold water. Set aside.

Pretty in Green

Place tomatoes, butter and red pepper flakes in a heavy-bottomed pan, bring to a simmer and let cook for at least 30 mn (45 is best). This will be the sauce you will spoon over the cabbage.

Chop vegetables very finely. Saute in olive oil with the thyme, garlic, and a sprinkling of salt and pepper until lightly golden and tender, about 10 to 15 mn. Transfer into a bowl and mix with rice.

Ready to roll.

With a sharp knife, remove the thickest portion of the cabbage leaves stems. Overlap the parts of the leaf that have been cut apart, and place 2 or 3 Tbsp of filling in the center. Roll the leaves, folding in the sides towards the center. Place seam side down in a baking dish and cover with tomato sauce. Cover with foil and bake for 40 min in a 325 oven. Uncover and bake a little while longer if the sauce looks watery. Serve hot or warm.

A classic, lightened up.

Yield: about a dozen stuffed cabbage leaves.

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “The Bad Girls Book Club”

  1. Deb Amlenon 16 Apr 2011 at 9:34 am

    They were sensational, as was the Lentil Salad.

    Thanks for inviting me to be a Bad Girl!

  2. Christineon 16 Apr 2011 at 9:58 am

    Of course! You fit right in. :)

Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply