I’m gonna come out and say it. I don’t think cabbage rolls get the respect they deserve.
In fact, I don’t think cabbage in general gets the respect it deserves. But I’m about to change all that! Well…at least in my little corner of the world. I love cabbage. Do you? It’s a stand-up veggie.
It’s filling. It’s got lots of water (and who couldn’t use more of that?) and it has a good amount of vitamin C. I use it in things like my Comforting Cabbage and Sausage Stew. But a few weeks ago I got a hankering for cabbage rolls.
Don’t ask me why. I just did. I’ve made them loads of times before. The best ones I’ve ever had oddly (or maybe not) were at the Amish market (cuz…the Amish make everything better). S’anyway I set out to make me some cabbage rolls the other day.
That’s when two distinct thoughts popped into my head:
- Have I ever run the stats on cabbage rolls? How healthy/unhealthy are they?
- I wonder if they photograph well…?
On the first point…most cabbage rolls are a combo of cabbage, meat, rice, some spices and tomato sauce of some sort. Not super unhealthy but they had room to improve, and in ways that are crazy easy to do! I used cauliflower rice instead of regular rice. Lean ground turkey. The sauce was a bit of a genius hack for me. Most tomato sauces are hella high in sodium, and I didn’t really want to make one from scratch, so instead I got a can of no-salt whole tomatoes and me and my Nutri-Ninja made tomato sauce magic! (Not really…we just combined the tomatoes with a few simple ingredients and whizzed it a few times, but the former sounds more exciting, right?)
So far as question #2…well…you guys can judge for yourself. How do they look?
Anyway…I’d love to tell you I’m very suave about making cabbage rolls, but here’s the truth. Getting those damn cabbage leaves off the head in one piece is a struggle! I mean a REAL struggle. The picture you see represents three heads of cabbage worth of attempts to get leaves off the head without tearing them. So I could definitely use some advice there. If you’ve got it, leave it in the comments.
As it stands now, what I usually end up doing, after I get disgusted by my ineptness, is cutting off the stem and steaming the entire head of cabbage until the larger leaves come loose. Which is probably counterproductive but in the end, it works!
I decided to make this recipe smoky because…well…if you haven’t noticed I’ve been sort of obsessed with smoked paprika lately. It’s so good! And it goes with EVERYTHING. Like…seriously. Well wait…probably not sweet stuff (although maybe?) but in savory stuff, you can take it from “blah” to “aah” in about half a second by adding some smoked paprika in there.
So I pretty much have been putting it in everything. Because the Amish. They sold me a big ass container of it. For like $3. (Did I mention how much I love the Amish?)
Besides that, this is a pretty standard recipe. I will say I don’t make my cabbage rolls soupy and I like them “well done.” That is to say I cook them until the tops have browned. I usually either reserve or make a bit of extra sauce to go over them after they come out of the oven, but I just like the texture of the well-done cabbage rolls. You guys cook your conscience, ok? Use more sauce than I call for if you like it to be soupy or have a lot of sauce. Mine is still very tender (I’ve learned the tenderness has more to do with how well you steam the leaves at the beginning…at least for me) and I love, love, love it!
So, cabbage, my apologies if I’ve not given you your due over the years. You definitely are a fall/winter favorite of mine – and I appreciate you!
|12 cabbage rolls||25 minutes|
|Cook Time||Passive Time|
|30 minutes||10 minutes|
Cabbage rolls are down-home comfort food. This smoky version eliminates most of the carbs, leaving you with a soothing winter meal that packs a powerful protein punch!
- 12 cabbage leaves
- 1 medium yellow onion diced
- 1 lb. lean ground turkey
- 1 c. cauliflower rice
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- 2 tbsp. smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
- 2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 10 oz. can whole tomoates (no salt added)
- 1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder
- 1/2 tsp. onion powder
- 1 tsp. no-calorie sweetener
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Bring a pot of water to a full boil and place a metal colander over it. Drop the cabbage leaves into the colander and allow them to steam until softened but not completely soft (about 5 minutes). Place in a bowl and set aside.
- Spray a skillet with non-stick cooking spray, set it over medium heat and allow it to get hot. Sauté onions 1-2 minutes or until softened. Add turkey, and brown completely.
- Add salt, pepper, smoked paprika, Italian seasoning, and 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce and stir completely into mixture. Finally add cauliflower rice. Allow the mixture to cook an additional 2 minutes or so.
- In a blender or food processor, pulse whole tomatoes (with canning liquid) until liquefied. Add garlic powder, onion powder, and remaining Worcestershire sauce and pulse again.
- To assemble rolls: Lay a cabbage leaf on a clean surface and spoon in about 2 ounces of the meat mixture. Then fold long ends inward and roll longways (as you would roll a burrito). Place in a casserole dish.
- When all leaves are stuffed and rolled, pour tomato sauce on top.
- For less saucy cabbage rolls (pictured): bake uncovered for 20 minutes.
- For more saucy cabbage rolls: bake covered with foil for 20 minutes.
- For cabbage rolls, you want to use the largest leaves you can. To do that, you'll peel off and discard the outermost green leaves (those are too tough to use). Then cut the stem from the head of cabbage and carefully peel back the larger, lighter green leaves. If you find it hard to peel them back without breaking them, try steaming the entire head of cabbage about 2-3 minutes to loosen the leaves up.
- If you like a lot of sauce in your cabbage rolls, you can make an additional batch of sauce using the 10 oz. of tomatoes, onion powder, garlic powder, and Worcestershire sauce, as listed above.
Hi a tip for cabbage removal and rolling is: Cut out the stem and core put in a plastic bag and freeze cabbage whole. When ready to make rolls thaw and the leaves peel off nicely, easy to roll.
Thanks for this tip, Monika! I’m going to try it out! ????????
My mother made stuffed cabbage all the time. Now, she would put a pot of boiling water on the stove and submerge the head for a minute or two and then peel the outer leaves off until it became difficult, Then, pop the cabbage head back in the water to soften; Repeat. She always cut the thick stem end off in a V-shape. That was how she taught me to do it.
Microwave steamers will make it easier now but we did not have that home convenience back in the 1960’s
I look forward to trying this one!
This is how I was taught to do it as well…
I like Mnika’s tip. My mom and now I, alway first freeze the cabbage head. Once thawed, leaves just come right off. No burning fingers when trying to roll either. When all cooked they tend to be a bit moister and oh so tender! Thanks for the filling recipe though. I was struggling with how to make these Bariatric friendly but still yummy!