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Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

This variation of an old and much-loved recipe can be changed in many ways depending on the ingredients you have on hand.
Two tightly wrapped cabbage rolls covered in tomato sauce with a parsley garnish.
Prep time: 30 to 45 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Makes: 12 rolls
Nutrition Facts: View label

Ingredients

1 large head of cabbage
1 pound lean ground beef, pork, poultry (uncooked)
1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce, divided (see Notes)
1 cup cooked brown rice (see Notes)
1 cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped bell pepper
¾ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon basil
½ teaspoon oregano
¼ to ½ teaspoon paprika or cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ cup chopped parsley, dill or cilantro (optional)

Directions

  1. Wash hands with soap and water.
  2. Rinse or scrub fresh vegetables under running water before preparing.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  4. Use these steps to remove 12 cabbage leaves from the head:
    • Trim off the bottom of the cabbage and carefully remove the core with a sharp knife.
    • Place cabbage, core-side down, in a deep microwave-safe dish along with one inch of water.
    • Microwave on HIGH for 10 minutes.
    • Carefully remove cabbage from the microwave.
    • Let cool until safe to handle.
    • Pull leaves from the outside of the cabbage and set aside. Return to the microwave for 2 to 3 minutes, if needed, to remove enough leaves.
  5. Spread ½ cup tomato sauce on the bottom of a 9x12-inch baking dish.
  6. In a large bowl, mix together the beef, rice, ½ cup tomato sauce, onion, bell pepper, garlic powder, basil, oregano, paprika, salt and pepper.
  7. Put about ¼ cup meat mixture in the middle of a cabbage leaf near the core end. Roll the bottom edge of the cabbage over the meat, then fold each side into the middle and continue rolling tightly. Place the roll seam side down in the baking dish. Repeat with remaining leaves and filling.
  8. Pour the remaining tomato sauce over the rolls.
  9. Cover the dish tightly with a lid or foil and bake for 1 hour. The cabbage leaves should be tender and the inside temperature at least 160 degrees F on a food thermometer.
  10. Spoon a little sauce from the bottom of the dish over a serving cabbage rolls and top with chopped parsley, if desired.
  11. Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours.

Notes

  • Use any cooked beans or grains in the filling, such as white beans and barley.
  • For a flavorful tomato sauce, add 1 teaspoon sugar and ¼ teaspoon each cumin and coriander before dividing. You can also make a sauce with chopped vegetables such as carrots and zucchini.
  • Use the remaining cabbage for a salad, soup or stir-fry.
  • No microwave? You can soften the cabbage leaves other ways: 
    • Place the trimmed and cored cabbage in a deep pot. Cover with boiling water and simmer for about 4 minutes. Remove leaves with tongs as they soften. 
    • Place the trimmed and cored cabbage in the freezer. Defrost cabbage in the refrigerator. The leaves will peel off easily.

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