I am a cabbage roll making novice. As such, I found these cabbage rolls to be good but not great. Maybe because I used cauliflower in place of rice for the filling. Yes, you did read that right and no I am not as crazy as I sound.
It occurred to me that maybe substituting brown rice for cauliflower make make the cabbage rolls more tender. That or maybe just a longer baking time in the oven will do the trick. I should say, in defense of cauliflower, that you can hardly detect that it’s cauliflower you’re eating and they are very low carb. Not to mention a great way to sneak vegetables into your diet. Still, I wonder if, made with brown rice, they would come out just a little bit more satisfying. Either way, JD ate two servings with great enthusiasm so I must be, at the very least, heading in the right direction.
As for the cauliflower, you can make ‘faux rice’ by grating a head of cauliflower with a cheese grater. Sounds crazy, I know, but it’s actually very quick and easy. I have made cauliflower fried rice this way and it was delicious. Something to try if you want to up your vegetable quotient.
After reading many unappealing recipes for cabbage rolls involving tomato soup, I took the basic elements and made up my own version to suit our tastes. Voila.
For the filling:
- 1 small green cabbage or 2 cups cooked and cooled brown rice
- 1.5 lbs ground beef
- 2 small onions, chopped
- 5-6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1/2 tsp hot pepper flakes
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 small head cauliflower, grated with a cheese grater
For the Sauce:
- 1 28oz can diced or crushed tomatoes
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp black pepper
- generous pinch cinnamon
- 1 packet stevia or 1 tsp sugar or 1 tsp honey (no chemical sweeteners, please!)
1. Cut the core from the cabbage or do what I did and make deep cuts around the core so the leaves detach easily.
2. Submerge the cabbage in a pot of boiling water. Boil 5 minutes until outer leaves are tender, remove leaves and continue boiling and collecting leaves until you have a fair amount (this should not take the whole cabbage).
3. Using a sharp knife, remove the tough vein at the back of each cabbage leaf – this will make the rolling process a lot easier. Set leaves aside while you prepare your filling.
4. Cook ground beef in a large pot, breaking up as you go, until no longer pink. Drain off fat and set aside.
5. If needed, add a small amount of olive oil to your pan. Add onion and stir until onion begins to brown, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and continue stirring until garlic is fragrant and soft, another 3 minutes.
6. Add grated cauliflower and continue cooking, stirring every so often, about 4 minutes more.
7. Add your seasonings and return ground beef to the pot, stir every to incorporate and taste. Adjust seasonings if necessary. Set aside to cool.
8. For the sauce, add your can of tomatoes, oregano, garlic, pepper, cinnamon and stevia to a large saucepan. Stir together and let simmer 15 minutes.
9. Assemble your cabbage rolls by spooning 2-3 tbsp of filling into each leaf (more if larger), folding sided in and rolling towards you (like a burrito!). Lay rolls seem side down in a large casserole dish.
10. Spoon sauce over cabbage rolls and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for one hour (you may want to cover with tin foil for the first 30 minutes).
Phew.. a 10 step recipe. I admit, it is fussier than your average dish but it’s certainly tasty. Cabbage rolls, I will revisit you. You will bend to my will next time!
Oh and I have a really, really yummy dinner in the works right now. Until tomorrow,