Food from my roots!
Here we go again….another dish from Italy, another recipe from memory lane.
Probably a lot of my “Italian” dishes will look unfamiliar to the American reader.
I was born and raised in the North of Italy, and often people are not aware that Italian cuisine is extremely varied and regionally differentiated. Ingredients and recipes form the North are completely different than what you would find in Roma or Sicily.
As most Italian immigrants to the US came from southern Italy, that is the kind of food that became more popular here.
Another factor is the difficulty in finding ingredients. You might think that Italian ingredients are easily sourced here in the US. In actuality only most generic ingredients can be found, and they have little in common with the rich local diversity that is found in Italy. Almost every town or village has it’s own variety of salumi (preserved meats), of cheese and of different wines, olive oils, heirloom vegetables etc etc.
Now this recipes contains one pretty exotic ingredient, very far from the Italian original recipe: Cassava
What is Cassava Flour and why use it?
Cassava or yuca is a nutty flavored, starchy tuber of the spurge family (Euphorbiaceae) from the South-American origin. Cassava is the third largest source of food carbohydrates in the tropics, after rice and corn. The cassava plant is extremely drought resistant and can easily grow in poor soils, it is also a perennial crop that can be harvested as required making it an extremely sustainable crop!
The cassava root is essentially a carbohydrate source (20-30%) therefor should be consumed in moderation. However, the roots are rich in calcium and vitamin C and contain a nutritionally significant quantity of thiamine and riboflavin.
100 grams of Cassava contain roughly half the calories of the equivalent weight of corn, rice and wheat, and of course it does not contain gluten.
I do not recommend using Cassava either fresh or as a flour in large quantities, because of the high sugar and carb content, but I found it priceless as a substitute for bread crumbs, when things like coconut flour or almond flour will just not work.
I use it as a topping for casseroles, to give that nice toasted crumbly feeling and sometimes as a breading substitute.
A low Carb Option
If you are following a low-carb or ketogenic diet, cassava flour is not going to work for you.
You can substitute the 1/2 cup cassava flour with a 1/4 cup of psyllium husk powder or chia seed flour. Mix well into the filling and let the dough rest for 10 minutes. If it turns out too dry add few tablespoons of coconut cream.
Watch my video for easy to follow instructions!
- 1 savoy cabbage
- 1 pound grass-fed, pastured ground beef
- 2 pastured eggs
- ½ cup cassava flour (Buy it here!)
- ½ cup coconut cream (optional)
- 1 teaspoon Herbes De Provence (Like these ones)
- ¼ tablespoon red chili flakes
- 1 teaspoon unrefined sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Cooking fat of choice (lard, ghee,butter, coconut oil)
- LOW CARB OPTION
- Use ¼ cup [u]psyllium husk powder[/u] or Chia Seed Flour instead os the cassava
- Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees
- In a large shallow pot boil about 1 quart of water with a pinch of sea salt
- Cut off the hard bottom of the cabbage, so you can remove whole leaves.
- Put about 6/7 leaves in the pot, when the water boils, and let cook just until barely tender (5 min)
- Drain off the water and set the leaves on a plate to cool
- In the meantime prepare the stuffing: In a large bowl mix the ground beef, which you have brought to room temperature, with the eggs, the cassava flour, the coconut cream (if you choose to use it), Herbes De Provence, a pinch of chili flakes and a good grind of fresh black pepper.
- Mix the filling well until evenly blended.
- Lay out a cabbage leaf at the time on the cutting board, then lay a dollop of filling on it. You can sort of pre-shape the filling into an oval that will be easy to roll up into the leaf.
- Wrap the leaf tightly around the filling
- Make as many rolls as you have filling for, trying to keep the size consistent so they will cook evenly
- Grease a small Pyrex with your fat of choice and lay the cabbage rolls on it, trying to fill the space
- Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes
- Serve immediately accompanied by a side salad,
A lot of my recipes are featured on the wonderful blog Paleo Grubs!