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Book Club Recipe: The Girl You Left Behind

Today’s post by our lovely chef, Ingrid, of Edible Tapestry | @EdibleTapestry

Meeting with your book club this month to discuss THE GIRL YOU LEFT BEHIND? Try making this amazing dish inspired by the novel.


Chou Farci

When Sophie asks the Kommandant in The Girl You Left Behind if there are any dishes he would prefer her to cook, he answers that the meal she served to him and his men that same evening is one they would enjoy having again in the near future. She describes to him how she prepares the meal that is called Chou Farci.

It’s sausage meat, some vegetables and herbs, wrapped in cabbage leaves and poached in stock.

I was so inspired by her explanation that I wanted to find out what was so special about this take on the ordinary beef and rice stuffed cabbage, baked in tomato sauce, that I’d grown up eating. I decided it would be the perfect October She Reads dish, and imagined ladies carrying towel wrapped Crock Pot liners of steaming stuffed cabbage parcels to their book club meetings to discuss Jo Jo Moyes’ First World War novel.

The first thing I thought of when buying my ingredients, the pork sausage, in particular, was the baby that Sophie was holding wrapped in a blanket on her first meeting with the new Kommandant assigned to her village. Just as she worried about his reaction to the baby in her arms, had he taken a closer look, I was concerned that the types of sausage available to me wouldn’t be appropriate for the traditional French stuffed cabbage dish that the German officer was so fond of. And “some vegetables and herbs” was a vague enough description to keep me chewing my lip, hoping I’d be able to pull it off.

I decided to stick with ingredients that would have been readily available to Sophie in her wartime, French farm village. Just what would have been in those crates the Kommandant had delivered to the inn? Contaminant-free, freshly baked, crusty bread from the village baker, carrots, onions, and basic herbs, such as parsley and sage. I added one of my farm fresh eggs to the list to make sure my cabbage bundles would hold together while they poached. The butcher at my favorite meat market directed me to his most mild, basic links and I was on my way.


1 lb. mild sausage. Mine was of the Italian variety, but very basic. You could even use mild breakfast sausage, if you like.

2 c. bread crumbs

1/4 c. finely grated carrot

1/4 c. sliced green onions

2 T chopped, fresh parsley

1 tsp. minced sage

1/2 tsp. salt. You may want to cook a little of the filling without salt to taste it. Your sausage may be salty enough.

1/4 tsp. pepper

1 egg

6 to 8 cabbage leaves

3 to 4 cups stock


Gently coax 6 to 8 leaves from a head of cabbage by cutting each at the stem.

Cut the hard vein from the base of each leaf in a “V” shape so that the leaf will fold over the sausage stuffing easily.

Bring a stock pot of water to boil. Blanch the leaves until softened, 3 to 4 minutes.

Remove from the heat and thrust into very cold water to stop the cooking process.

Squeeze the sausage from its casings into a bowl.

Add the bread crumbs, carrots, onions, herbs, egg, and salt and pepper.

Mix together to thoroughly combine.


Place a ball of filling in the center of each cabbage leaf and wrap the sides of the leaf up to make a round parcel.


Do this with remaining stuffing and leaves.

Lay the stuffed leaves in the bottom of a stock pot.

Cover with stock.


Bring the liquid to a poaching temperature, just until there is barely any movement. Poach for 2 hours.

You could also place them in the bottom of a slow cooker and cover with the stock. 8 hours on low should do it, but you should keep an eye on the level of the liquid to make sure it doesn’t evaporate away.

I really wanted to thicken the poaching liquid once the stuffed cabbage leaves were cooked to make a sauce, but Sophie didn’t, so I didn’t either.


6 to 8 servings.

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is the author of THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS (2014), FLIGHT OF DREAMS (2016), and I WAS ANASTASIA (2018). Her books have been translated into numerous languages and have been Library Reads, One Book One County, and Book of the Month Club selections. She is the co-founder of SheReads.org and lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her family.

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October Book Club Selection

Jojo Moyes Collage

I first heard of Jojo Moyes three years ago in Charlotte, North Carolina. I was on a business trip for She Reads and found myself deep in conversation with a literary agent who was singing the praises of an author she’d just discovered. The author was Jojo Moyes and the book was her first U.S. published novel, THE LAST LETTER FROM YOUR LOVER. And then last year Jojo quite literally took the world by story with her novel, ME BEFORE YOU. So it should come as no surprise that her latest book, THE GIRL YOU LEFT BEHIND, is just as spellbinding. We knew, the moment we read it, that it had to be our October book club selection. And we are so fortunate to have Jojo Moyes with us this month. She’s given us a glimpse not only inside her life as a writer, but inside the very room she writes. Stick with us through October and you’ll get to know this very talented and charming writer.

Moyes Novels.jpg

Thanks to the amazing folks at Pamela Dorman Books (Viking/Penguin) we’ve giving away copies of all three novels to one lucky winner.
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The Girl You Left BehindFrom the  New York Times—bestselling author of  Me Before You, a spellbinding love story of two women separated by a century but united in their determination to fight for what they love most Jojo Moyes’s bestseller,  Me Before You, catapulted her to wide critical acclaim and has struck a chord with readers everywhere. “Hopelessly and hopefully romantic ” (Chicago Tribune), Moyes returns with another irresistible heartbreaker that asks, “Whatever happened to the girl you left behind? ” France, 1916:   Artist Edouard Lefevre leaves his young wife, Sophie, to fight at the front. When their small town falls to the Germans in the midst of World War I, Edouard’s portrait of Sophie draws the eye of the new Kommandant. As the officer’s dangerous obsession deepens, Sophie will risk everything—her family, her reputation, and her life—to see her husband again. Almost a century later, Sophie’s portrait is given to Liv Halston by her young husband shortly before his sudden death. A chance encounter reveals the painting’s true worth, and a battle begins for who its legitimate owner is—putting Liv’s belief in what is right to the ultimate test. Like Sarah Blake’s  The Postmistress  and Tatiana de Rosnay’s  Sarah’s Key,The Girl You Left Behind  is a breathtaking story of love, loss, and sacrifice told with Moyes’s signature ability to capture our hearts with every turn of the page. * * * Jojo MoyesJojo Moyes was born in 1969 and grew up in London. After a varied career including stints as a minicab controller, typer of braille statements for blind people for NatWest, and brochure writer for Club 18-30 she did a degree at Royal Holloway and Bedford New College, London University. In 1992 She won a bursary financed by The Independent newspaper to attend the postgraduate newspaper journalism course at City University, and apart from 1994 when she worked in Hong Kong for the Sunday Morning Post, she worked at The Independent for ten years, including stints as Assistant news editor and Arts and Media Correspondent. She has been a full time novelist since 2002, when her first book, Sheltering Rain was published. She lives on a farm in Essex with her husband, journalist Charles Arthur, and their three children. * * *

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is the author of THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS (2014), FLIGHT OF DREAMS (2016), and I WAS ANASTASIA (2018). Her books have been translated into numerous languages and have been Library Reads, One Book One County, and Book of the Month Club selections. She is the co-founder of SheReads.org and lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her family.

read more

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