Our life paths and most of our achievements are shaped in early stage of our life, and the country we are born in can ease our progress, or make our life challenging. Growing up in Germany had many advantages and even more peculiarities. My childhood was nice, filled with good people who made me apple pies, nutella bread or my all time favorite Die Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte dessert. I mean, as all other kids in the world, I loved all things sprinkled with sugar or covered with chocolate, so when early winter came, my parents had trouble to make me even sit down at the table when some acidic meal was on the menu, especially when a sauerkraut dish was filling my nostrils with its aroma. And boy, Germans above all love sauerkraut. I think that’s why most people on the planet uses German word for fermented cabbage (sauer – sour, kraut – greens). It’s their national food; they invented numerous recipes with it, and I guess I tasted all of them as a kid – but I wasn’t very happy about it. I mean, which kid would be? Sauerkraut tasted like eating two unripe lemons at the same time, dipped into the vinegar. Also, almost all recipes had some kind of meat in them, and I never liked to eat meat neither. So, when I started to go to high school, and I didn’t have to eat things my parents cooked, I avoided all things sauerkraut and I did this successfully for a long time. Then I grew up – pff, and started to read about positive effects of eating fermented vegetables (my mother voice would ring in my mind: but the sour cabbage is healthy, you will not have cold and then you wouldn’t have to drink that awful cough syrup, etc), and it came to me: I could make sauerkraut sweeter – and I did. I’ve tried many variations of baked sauerkraut, but this baked sauerkraut with brown rice and prunes recipe is the nicest sauerkraut recipe that I know of. It has that sweet over savory taste that the best oriental dishes have. And it really is healthy for you. It’s also a completely vegan sauerkraut recipe, and if you have kids with a sweet tooth, I think they will enjoy this dish too, just don’t tell them it’s a pickled cabbage dish… yuck ;)
- 1 kg / 2 lb sauerkraut
- 20 prunes
- 1 cup cooked brown basmati rice
- 2 medium onions
- 1 teaspoon craway seeds
- 4 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons sweet paprika powder
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons salt
- a dash of chili pepper powder
- 6 tablespoons sunflower oil
- cutting board
- sharp knife
- large frying pan
- wooden spatula
- smaller cooking pan
- casserole dish
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC / 350ºF.
- Take smaller cooking pan and cook rice. I usually use ½ cup of brown basmati rice for this dish, but you can add any brown rice.
- While the rice is cooking on low heat, put the frying pan also on a low heat, add sunflower oil and finely chopped onions and simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Then add sauerkraut, bay leaves, caraway seeds and about half cup of water in to the frying pan, mix well, cover and simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Take the casserole dish and transfer cabbage in, add rice and season with sweet paprika, pepper, salt and chili powder. Mix well, take the bay leaves out and place the prunes into the mixture evenly.
- Bake for about 30 – 40 minutes, or until the top gets nice crunchy look.
Serve hot, with some nice artisan bread.
* Before you even start with cooking, taste your sauerkraut. The rule is, that the further it ferments, the sourer it gets. So, if you’re making this baked sauerkraut dish in November, your brined cabbage will be mild, but if you decide to make it in February, feel free to rinse all the sauerkraut from excessive acidity.