I was shooting a story written by my friend Stacey Greenberg for the Memphis Flyer about two brothers who started a hot dog business called Memphis Dawgs. Todd kindly offered me a hot dog, so I had to break the news to him.
"It looks great, but I'm a vegetarian," I told him. He told me that he tried to sell tofu dogs, but he thought they were terrible and that he couldn't sell something he didn't like. I had to agree.
Then he said something brilliant: "Man, if I was gonna make a vegetarian hot dog, I'd just roll up some good veggies like mushrooms and onions in a cabbage leaf and stick that on a bun."
We took his sage advice and ran with it -- and got excellent results! It looks like a lot of steps, but it's really simple to put together and makes 10-12 dogs. You can make them ahead of time, so all you need to do when it comes time to eat is heat and serve.
1/2 cup French green lentils
1/8 cup yellow mustard seeds
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth (like Whole Foods 365 brand)
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon red pepper
1 teaspoon marjoram
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion (1 medium)
1 8-ounce package cremini mushrooms (finely chopped)
sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups grated potato (1 small)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 large eggs (beaten)
1 large head of cabbage
10-12 hot dog rolls (preferably the poppy seed kind)
sweet relish, tomato slices, sour pickles, yellow mustard, and celery salt (for garnish)
In a medium pan over high heat, bring the lentils, mustard seeds, caraway seeds, broth, sage, red pepper, marjoram, garlic powder, and vinegar to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the lentils are cooked through but still firm. Set aside.
In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, add the canola oil and then the onion. Sauté until translucent. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook until the mixture appears dry. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the potato, tomato paste, and the lentil mixture. Stir to incorporate. Set mixture aside to cool before stirring in the eggs to create the filling.
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil and preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Using a paring knife, cut the thick part of the outermost cabbage leaf away from the root. Carefully peel the leaf away from the head and set aside. Repeat this process until you have 10 or 12 large cabbage leaves. Boil the leaves in boiling water until just tender (about 2 minutes each). This can be done in batches of 3 or 4. Set tender cabbage leaves aside to cool. (Reserve the remaining cabbage for another use -- maybe this or this?)
Lay one cabbage leaf down and then scoop 1/3 cup of the filling near the center of the leaf. Form the filling into a 3 1/2-inch-long mound. All you do then is roll the leaf up like a burrito: fold the sides over then roll the end nearest to you toward the top. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Place a cabbage roll on a hot dog roll and garnish as you like. (Makes 10-12 Cabbage Dogs or about 6 servings.)