Stuffed Cabbage aka Cabbage Rolls aka Get In My Belly! These are even gluten free so there is no reason everyone can’t make them!
Have y’all tried stuffed cabbage, named for being stuffed with goodness? And by goodness, I mean meat, rice and tomato sauce? It seems wrong at first, but once you try it, I hope you’ll agree it’s so wrong it’s right. Right? Some call them cabbage rolls because, well, they are round. Maybe we can agree on Stuffed Cabbage Rolls? Cool.
They are seriously one of my favorite comfort foods. After brisket. And matzo ball soup. And potato kugel. But definitely top 10! My Bubbe, always watching her womanly figure, made hers with ground turkey and a sweet tomato sauce. Definitely a kid crowd pleaser!
Cabbage has been a staple of the Jewish diet for nearly 2,000 years. Lucky us! It has a short growing period and is easy to cultivate, and cheap, making it a versatile peasant food. It’s commonly seen in sauerkraut, stews, blintzes, or slaws and, of course, as stuffed cabbage.
Stuffed cabbage may sound easy enough, right?
Mix filling, roll up in cabbage, braise, eat. But things can go wrong.
Rolls fall apart. Sauces are too thin, or overly sweet.
This version is sweet and sour, with brown sugar (no ketchup here!), lemon and vinegar to make a complex sauce that only gets better the next day. Cinnamon and cumin add another layer not found in blander recipes. I also used quinoa instead of rice so it’s gluten free. That way no one is deprived of stuffed cabbage!
Make ’em nice and comfortable.
Oh my those look good, right?
Get in there! Maybe you could even serve these to your Valentine?
- 1 large cabbage (about 3 - 3 ½ pounds)
- ½ cup dried quinoa (cook to make 1.5 cups)
- 1 pound ground beef (I used 80/20)
- 1 egg, whisked
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ¾ cup white onion, small diced
- 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
- 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
- ½ cup onion, small diced
- ⅓ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup white wine or champagne vinegar
- Juice from 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- ½ tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- Salt and cracked black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- Parsley for garnish
- Take a large stockpot and fill it with water and bring it to a boil. Carefully place cabbage in the water (it’s hot!) and boil for a few minutes until the leaves start to fall off and the cabbage darkens in color. Let cool.
- While cabbage is cooling, mix together the filling. In a large bowl mix together cooked quinoa, beef, egg, garlic, ¾ cup white onion, ⅓ cup crushed tomatoes, 1 teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon cracked black pepper. Set aside.
- In a separate large bowl, mix together sauce ingredients. Mix diced tomatoes, remaining crushed tomatoes, ½ cup onion, brown sugar, white wine vinegar, lemon juice, paprika, cinnamon, cumin, 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper or to taste.
- Once cabbage is cool, peel off 10-12 large leaves. Chop remaining cabbage into small-diced pieces. Trim down the stem from the leaves, careful not to cut through the leaf and then dry off the leaf. Add about 4-5 tablespoons of filling near the bottom of the leaf. Fold the bottom over the filling, then fold in sides. Roll up like a burrito. Repeat with other leaves.
- Pour about half the sauce onto the bottom of a large Dutch oven, top with cabbage pieces and top that with rolls. It’s okay if the rolls overlap a bit. Pour remaining sauce on top. Bring mixture to a simmer, lower to low heat, cover, and cook for 90 minutes to two hours until cabbage is tender.
- Let cool and refrigerate overnight. The next day, if the sauce is thin remove cabbage rolls and simmer sauce for about 10 minutes until reduced and thick. Adjust salt with salt and pepper to taste.
- Garnish with parsley and serve!
- Can be refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen for up to three months.