Cabbage rolls are an extremely versatile dish that can utilize a number of seasonal items. Here are two ways to enjoy this tasty meal.
Traditional Cabbage Rolls
1 lb ground pork or sausage (ground turkey or chicken are excellent substitutions)
1.5 cups cooked brown rice
One large head of cabbage
1 can crushed tomatoes
2-3 medium tomatoes diced
1/3 cup of shredded zucchini
1/4 cup finely diced bell pepper
3 cloves garlic peeled and roughly chopped
1/3 cup diced onion
2 TBSP Balsamic Vinegar (optional)
1 TBSP Olive oil
2 eggs (optional)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Optional veggies that can be used: cooked greens, shredded carrot, cauliflower, mushrooms.
Over medium heat in a small sauce pan add in the olive oil and onion; cooking until onions are translucent and softened (about 3-5 minutes). Then add in the crushed tomato, diced tomato, garlic, balsamic vinegar, and salt/pepper to taste. Simmer on low heat stirring occasionally as you prepare the rest of the dish.
Brown the pork/sausage and cook the rice according to the directions.
Start about 2 inches of water boiling in a wide pan. Chop the bottom of the cabbage off and carefully peel the large outer leave off – this recipe makes about 6-8 rolls depending on how full you fill them. Carefully dip the leaves into the boiling water just unit softened – about 30 seconds (this step isn’t necessary but it will make rolling your cabbage rolls easier). Once finished, dump the boiling water but keep the pan out.
In a medium bowl mix the meat, rice, bell pepper, shredded zucchini, and whatever other veggies you are using. Salt and pepper to taste. If you would like your cabbage rolls to bind you can mix in 2 eggs to this mixture but that is optional.
Lay cabbage leaves flat. Using a sharp knife, cut the thickest part of the middle rib (near the bottom of the leaf) out and discard. This will leave you with a triangular notch in the bottom of the leaf. Simply bring the cut edges together and slightly overlap them keeping the leaf relatively flat. Place a scoop of your mixture just below the middle of the leaf – right above the notch you cut out. Fold similarly to a burrito by folding the sides in as you roll the leaf up and around the mixture. Keep the sides tucked in as you roll the whole leaf up. (You can use toothpicks to keep the roll secure but be sure and remove them before serving.) Set rolls aside as you finish using the rest of the leaves.
If you would like a smooth tomato sauce you can use an emersion blender on it but that isn’t necessary. Pour about half of the tomato sauce into the sauce pan. Nestle your cabbage rolls into the sauce. Once they are all in, pour the rest of the sauce over them. Cover and bring up to a simmer. Cook on a low simmer for about 15-20 minutes depending on how thick your cabbage rolls are.
Can be served with parmesan or mozzarella cheese on top if you wish.
Vegetarian/Vegan Cabbage Rolls
Simply replace the protein with about a cup of cooked green lentils when making this recipe (try cooking them in vegetable broth for added flavor). If you are looking for a vegan option and would like a binder – use an egg replacement or, alternatively, about 1/3 pureed butternut squash added to the mixture will do this as well.