Lunch idea: Cabbage rolls four ways

This updated version courtesy of London Free Press food columnist Jill Wilcox, is meatless and uses...

This updated version courtesy of London Free Press food columnist Jill Wilcox, is meatless and uses several spices that are common to Indian cooking. The cabbage of choice is the big, deep green, leafy Savoy that is abundant at market stands now. The sauce is a tomato-based sauce, but it gets extra flavour from ginger, garlic and turmeric.

Rita DeMontis, National Food Editor, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:55 PM ET

 

On a whim the other day I bought a head of cabbage. Not too big and firm to the touch — and it's been ages since I've made cabbage rolls. The bitter weather, frozen ground and snowy atmosphere told me this was the perfect time for such a comforting dish.

In my freezer I always have ready-made meatball mixture (a blend of beef, veal and pork with minced onion and garlic, freshly chopped parsley, some basil, a scant handful of breadcrumbs, an egg, some milk, salt and pepper and a touch of nutmeg.) I defrosted the meat in the fridge for several hours. Meanwhile, I ran cold water between the cabbage leaves, prying them off one at a time until I had a good 16 leaves. I then boiled them in salted, boiling water, removing when they were wilted enough to handle, running them through cold water and then blotting them on a paper-lined cookie sheet. I cut off the tough stem on each leaf.

I then made several cups of long-grain rice in the microwave, blending a cup of hot rice with the defrosted meatball mixture to cook it through. I then rinsed the rest of the rice in cold water before blending it with the meat/rice mixture. For good measure, I finely chopped the ends of my cabbage leaves, and added a couple of dollops of homemade tomato sauce to the mix.

Okay - filling in a bowl, leaves on a platter, I quickly started wrapping the cabbage rolls into nice little bundles. I snuggled them into a casserole dish and poured the rest of my tomato sauce overtop. Baked covered in a 350F (180C) oven for a good hour and - yum! Classic cabbage rolls that tasted even better the next day!

Here's a selection of cabbage rolls that may just have you impulsively reaching for a head of cabbage next time you're out and about:

No-Fuss Cabbage Rolls

No steaming, no stuffing or no rolling — this recipe delivers the great taste and goodness of traditional cabbage rolls without all the work! Recipe courtesy of Heinz Canada.

  • 4 cups (1L) shredded cabbage
  • 1 lb.(454g) extra-lean ground beef
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. (2ml) garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. (2ml) salt
  • 2/3 cup (150ml) uncooked long-grain rice
  • 3 1/2 cups (875ml) tomato juice
  • 1/3 cup (75ml) chili sauce
  • Sour cream, optional

In large 10-cup casserole, layer a third of cabbage, half of each of meat, onion, garlic salt, salt and rice. Pour 1 cup (250ml) tomato juice over layers. Add a second layer of six ingredients and then another cup of tomato juice. Top with remaining cabbage. Stir chili sauce into remaining tomato juice; pour over casserole. Bake covered, in 325F (160C) oven 11/2 to 2 hours. Serve with sour cream, if desired. Serves 8.

Vegetarian Cabbage Rolls

This updated version courtesy of London Free Press food columnist Jill Wilcox, is meatless and uses several spices that are common to Indian cooking. The cabbage of choice is the big, deep green, leafy Savoy that is abundant at market stands now. The sauce is a tomato-based sauce, but it gets extra flavour from ginger, garlic and turmeric.

  • 8 large Savoy cabbage leaves
  • 2 Tbsp. (30 ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. (5ml) minced ginger
  • 1 large carrot, finely diced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 tsp. (10 ml) cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp. (5 ml) ground coriander
  • 1 cup (250 ml) chopped white mushrooms
  • 2 roasted red peppers, diced
  • 4 cups (1L) of cooked basmati rice

Sauce

  • 1 Tbsp. (15 ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp.(15 ml) minced ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 - 28 oz. (798 ml) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups (500 ml) tomato juice
  • 1 tsp. (5 ml) turmeric
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup (250ml) finely chopped cilantro (optional)

Blanch cabbage leaves in two batches in boiling water for 1 minute. Remove from water and let cool. Remove tough centres with a sharp knife.

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Cook onion until just soft. Add garlic, ginger, carrot, jalapeno, cumin seeds, mushrooms and coriander. Cook until carrots are tender. Stir in roasted red peppers and cooked rice and stir. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside. Place 1/8th of filling at bottom of a cabbage leaf. Roll bottom of leaf over to cover rice, tuck in sides and continue to roll up. Repeat with remaining filling and leaves. Place cabbage rolls in a shallow casserole dish.

Make sauce by heating vegetable oil in a large shallow frying pan. Add ginger and garlic and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in crushed tomatoes, turmeric and tomato juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour over cabbage rolls. Cover with foil and place in a preheated 350F (180C) oven for about 50-60 minutes or until sauce is bubbling and cabbage rolls are heated through. Makes 8 servings.

 

Beef, Pork and Wild Rice Cabbage Rolls

Recipe courtesy of the Edmonton SUN's James Szutarski, who suggests freezing a whole head of cabbage well ahead of time. Take the cabbage out of the freezer the night before you are going to make your cabbage rolls - this will soften the cabbage nicely, making it much easier to roll.

  • 1 lb. (454 g) ground beef
  • 1/2 lb. (227 g) ground pork
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) precooked wild rice
  • 8 slices pancetta bacon, diced
  • 2 finely chopped onions
  • 3 minced cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) finely chopped green peppers
  • 1 1/2 tsp. (7 ml) dried marjoram
  • 1/2 tsp. (2 ml) dried thyme
  • 2 Tbsp. (30 ml) dried parsley flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. (2 ml) salt
  • 1/2 tsp. (2 ml) fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 28 oz (796 ml) sauerkraut, squeezed dry
  • 3 Tbsp. (45 ml) packed brown sugar
  • 2x10 oz (284 ml) can tomato soup
  • 2 heads of cabbage (pre-frozen day before and defrosted)

In a large bowl combine beef, pork, wild rice, pancetta, onions, garlic, green peppers, marjoram, thyme, parsley, salt, pepper and egg. Mix well. In a separate bowl mix sauerkraut, brown sugar and tomato soup. Cut core out of defrosted cabbages. Separate eaves and remove any large veins. Dry them off or let them drip dry over sink. Place one leaf on counter and add a ball of meat mixture to middle, an oblong shape works best. Now roll a little of bottom up, fold in sides and continue to roll until the leaf is all rolled up. Place the cabbage roll in a large roasting pan, fold side down. Continue to roll until all the cabbage is used up and meat mixture as well. Pour tomato soup mixture into the pan. Cook in a 350F (180C) oven for 1 hour or until meat is thoroughly cooked.

Serves 8.

Slow Cooker Cabbage Rolls

Recipe courtesy of the Edmonton SUN's James Szutarski.

  • 1/2 lb. (227 g) extra lean ground beef
  • 1/2 lb. (227 g) ground pork
  • 1 cup (250 g) cooked rice
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) diced shallots
  • 1 tsp. (5 ml) salt
  • 1 tsp. (5 ml) fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) cream
  • 10 oz can (284 ml) tomato soup
  • 1 Tbsp. (15 ml) brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. (15 ml) lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. (5 ml) dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. (5 ml) dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. (5 ml) dried basil
  • 12 large cabbage leaves (about half a head)

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Place cabbage leaves in the pot and boil for 2 minutes. Drain off water and let leaves cool, so you can handle them.

In a large bowl combine beef, pork, rice, egg, shallots, salt, pepper, cream, thyme, oregano and basil. Mix well. Place balls of meat mixture into cabbage leaves. Roll a little of bottom of leaf up, fold in sides, then continue to roll until leaf is all rolled up. Place open side down in bottom of your slow cooker (I like to pre-spray with non-stick cooking spray). Continue until all cabbage and meat mixture is used up. In a second bowl combine tomato soup, brown sugar and lemon juice. Pour over cabbage rolls. Cover slow cooker and cook on low for 8-10 hours. Serves 8-12.


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