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Kaalilaatikko / Finnish Cabbage Casserole


In Finnish cuisine, there are many variations of casserole dishes, or what they call laatikko: carrot, potato, or swede/lanttu, all of which are mostly served during Christmas time. The Finnish Cabbage Casserole is usually made with rice, cabbage, and minced meat, and served with lingonberries/puolukka. However, it could also be made easily in different ways if you want to create your favorite family-friendly dish.


Ingredients:

1 cup rice

1 onion, chopped finely

400g minced meat (or lentils vegetarian option)

1 cabbage, chopped finely

1 tablespoon syrup

2 cups broth (optional), or water

1 tsp dried marjoram

Salt and pepper


Instructions:

1. Cook rice as the usual method.

2. Preheat oven to 200 deg C.

3. Put onions and minced meat in a pan, add salt, pepper, and marjoram; cook until the color has changed, then take off from the heat. If using lentils, simply replace meat with a cup of cooked lentils.

4. In another pot, add cabbage and a few spoons of water then cover it and cook slightly until soft but do not brown. Remove from the heat.

5. Add your minced meat, cooked rice and syrup to the pot with the cabbage, combine well.

6. Pour mixture into an oven dish, pour the broth (if using), or water over the top and bake in the oven for about an hour or until the top has turned brown. If it’s getting too brown quickly, cover the dish with the lid and lower the temperature of the oven to 180.

7. Serve with lingonberries/puolukka fresh, frozen or as jam (optional).


Tips:

*If you want to create this dish according to your taste and family preferences, or if you are interested in an environment-friendly version, you could replace minced meat with different types of beans, mushrooms, or vegetables such as broccoli and kale/lehtikaali.

*You could also replace rice with barley (ohra). There's a wide variety of barley for cooking, this one is specifically made to resemble rice.

*Marjoram is not very familiar to most people, so feel free to use your favorite herbs instead such as thyme, dill, or tarragon.