One of my very favorite things is stuffed cabbage rolls. The delectable little packets are claimed by Poland, Romania, and Turkey, but also found all over northern and eastern Europe. As much as I love them, I have to block out a whole weekend to complete the laborious and time-consuming process of boiling cabbage and carefully removing the leaves once they are pliable, so that I can stuff them with a filling I’ve already prepared, and then cook them in a sauce I’ve made from scratch. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to get the rich flavors and textures that I love so much, without all that work? Drum roll please – introducing the answer to my cabbage roll prayers.
Cabbage Roll Casserole
- 2 lbs. ground beef (or other ground meat of choice)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cans (15 oz. each) crushed tomatoes, divided (or pureed fresh tomatoes)
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon dill weed
- 1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 cups cooked rice
- 4 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
- 1 medium head cabbage (2 lbs.), shredded
- 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (or other cheese of choice)
- Coarsely ground pepper, optional
- Preheat oven to 375°. In a large skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat, crumbling beef, until meat is no longer pink. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Drain. Stir in 1 can tomato sauce and next 6 ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, 5 minutes. Stir in rice and bacon; remove from heat.
- Layer a third of the cabbage in a greased 13×9-in. baking dish. Top with half the meat mixture. Repeat layers; top with remaining cabbage. Pour remaining tomato sauce over top.
- Cover and bake 45 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with cheese. Bake until cheese is melted, about 10 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. If desired, sprinkle with coarsely ground pepper. Makes 12 servings.
TEST KITCHEN TIP: Try serving with a splash of red wine or cider vinegar.
(In my regular recipe I add vinegar to the tomato sauce. I think you could do that here as well. My recipe also uses golden raisins in the sauce which, along with the vinegar gives a sweet & sour tang to it that is a good counterpoint to the richness of the filling.)
Check our recipe archive for more crazy-good cabbage recipes.