stuffed radicchio with a sunflower seed pesto

After my gallbladder was removed I agonized over what foods I could eat. For a self-professed foodie this was worst-case-scenerio type stuff… Being afraid of food. I quickly learned this was a typical response of the 750,000 plus people in America alone (per year) who have had this surgery.

I can go further into why I think this is happening… But I’ll just say I don’t believe we’re all going through drive-thrus. I certainly wasn’t. This came out of literally nowhere.

I followed a few instagram profiles of people who have had this surgery and of doctors and homeopaths who were claiming they had the answers, and one individual in particular went into great detail regarding the pretty pink radicchio. She stated it helped produced bile (a very necessary bodily substance used to digest foods). I was interested, to say the least.

I started simply enough; slicing and sautéing. I added into pasta sauces, over chicken, in salads… But then I thought about stuffing them like we would a cabbage and this came out beautifully. If you’re looking for your next casserole idea (not that you’re a soccer mom striving for head of your PTA) this is fantastic. It’s unexpected and it’s got a ton of nutrients your body will thank you for. Whether you still have all your organs or not 😉

You Will Need:

  • Turkey Kielbasa (I recommend the brand you see in the above picture if you can find it – we find ours at Sprouts. It is sugar-free which is almost impossible to find – I used one half of the package per eight stuffed leaves)
  • Veggies of Choice (I used yellow squash, carrots, bok choy and dandelion greens)
  • Dairy Free (or dairy) Parmesan Cheese
  • Olive Oil
  • Coconut Aminos
  • Grated Ginger
  • Dried Oregano
  • Radicchio (plan for either size however, in a casserole dish, the small round works best)
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Spinach
  • Follow Your Heart Soy-Free Vegenaise
  • Fresh (or dried) Basil
  • Casserole Dish
  • Kitchen Shears

You will want to start wilting and softening your veggies first. Add some olive oil to a pan and chop your veggies. Heat the pan on medium, add your veggies (bite-sized) and chop your kielbasa (also bite-sized). For reference, I used one squash, a few leaves of bok choy and dandelion greens per eight radicchio leaves.

Add two tablespoons of coconut aminos, enough olive oil as you’d like (our total was two tablespoons), the grated ginger and dried oregano. These would be to taste however, if helpful, I used two teaspoons of each.

Cook that down on medium high with the lid on for a while, stirring when you can. After about twenty mins, lift the lid and stir again and then lower to low with the lid on (provided everything has considerably softened).

Next, start removing your radicchio leaves.

Place aside however many you think is appropriate based on how many people you are feeding (I used three stuffed leaves per person but we could have – and wanted – more). It’s okay if they rip, you are folding them anyway. Place them in a safe place for now.

Prep and finish your pesto by placing five tablespoons of sunflower seeds in a food processor. Add three tablespoons of the Vegenaise, some handfuls of spinach, a bit of the dairy free parmesan, a few leaves of fresh basil (or dried basil to taste) and a couple glugs of olive oil (adding more if the machine needs it).

Blend and taste.

If it’s to your liking, pour out two thirds of the pesto onto the bottom of your casserole dish to make a bed for the radicchio.

Your veggies and kielbasa should be done by now.

Take your radicchio cups and start filling them. Try to gauge how much you will need per cup – I found that a wooden spoonful (thereabouts, a bit less) was just enough. Take the right side and tuck it in, hold it with your finger, bring the top in and then fold the left side in.

Place the stuffed leaf onto the pesto with the tucked ends on the bottom so they stay closed.

Drizzle just a bit of olive oil over the top.

Place in the oven, uncovered, on 350 degrees for a half hour.

In the meantime, place the remaining pesto in a small vessel so you can offer it as an additional topping. I also added some parsley to the top of the casserole when finished; this is obviously optional but now would be a good time to rinse and chop the parsley.

When the casserole is done, take it out of the oven and let it sit for ten minutes to allow everything to come back together. Like you would a lasagna.

I took this time to add the parsley.

Decide how you wish to plate the stuffed leaves. I used them alongside a broccoli, avocado and tomato salad.

For my husband, he wanted just the stuffed leaves. I placed them down on a small individual platter with the rest of the pesto and served it simply.

TIP: You will not be able to cut through these with a standard knife. You will need kitchen shears. After you have plated, go ahead and pre-cut the stuffed radicchio into bite-sized pieces (three pieces per stuffed leaf) and provide a spoon. That way everyone can get into the stuffing easily while also scooping some pesto.

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