Italian Stuffed Cabbage Rolls are a little time consuming on the front end, but a great meal prep/ freezer meal for busy days in the future. Grownups and kids alike will love the savory, flavorful filling!
Rainy days are the perfect days for cooking projects. When the drizzle starts long before the sun comes up and the whole world seems to be washing away the stress of the heat and the sun, I love to wrap myself in the comfort of my cozy kitchen and make time-consuming dishes. With the elimination of any outside work, my mind can forget everything (or work through something difficult) and become absorbed in whatever it is I’m cooking.
I like to make dishes like pot roast, beef shanks, homemade marinara, or even a loaf of fresh bread or a delicious pie. These dishes are best made when there’s no rush to be anywhere or do much of anything. This is usually a Sunday for me, the steady thump of my chef’s knife and the sound of a simmering sauce the soundtrack to my own personal religion. The kids wander in and out of the kitchen, sharing snippets of conversation and leaving with a little something to nibble on.
Cabbage rolls are one of those dishes that fits nicely into the Sunday mood. Boiling the cabbage, peeling the leaves, mixing the stuffing and filling each leaf with meaty goodness full of comforting flavors takes time, and if you have a tweenage child around, the perfect time to discuss the intricacies of life, love and middle school. So make a double or triple batch so you have plenty of time to chat.
This recipe requires a technique to roll the cabbage. Some folks prefer the traditional cigar roll, this technique using a measuring cup is so much easier. A half cup measure is the best ( I like a silicone one like this). Simply place the cabbage leaf in the cup, fill with stuffing, and fold the leaves over the top. Invert the cabbage roll into your hand and Voila! – stuffed cabbage. No skill required.
Other Cabbage recipes:
Italian Cabbage Rolls
Cabbage Rolls are a delicious make-ahead meal that is perfect for those busy weeknights.
- 1 medium head of cabbage
- 1 12 ozpackage Italian sausage, casings removed
- ½ lb ground beef chuck
- ½ cup cooked brown rice
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ½ medium onion grated
- 2 T chopped fresh parsley
- ½ t. fennel seeds crushed
- ½ t. garlic powder
- ½ t. kosher salt
- ½ t. fresh ground black pepper
- ½ cup water
- 3 cups of marinara sauce store bought or homemade
- In a 5 quart saucepan, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Add the entire head of cabbage in, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove the cabbage from the water and drain in a colander (don’t throw the water away you might need it again). When cool enough to handle, remove the outer leaves of the cabbage until you have 12 leaves. You may have to return the cabbage to the water in order to soften more leaves. Shred the remaining cabbage into short, thin threads and place in a large bowl with the first 12 ingredients (excluding the cabbage leaves). Mix together well with your hands. Do not over mix. You want the mixture to stick together, but not be mush.
- Preheat the oven to 350. Lightly grease a 9×13 baking dish and pour the marinara sauce in the bottom of the pan ( I like the plain versions of sauce for this recipe such as a tomato basil variety).
- Using a ½ cup measure (a silicone one if you have it), place one cabbage leaf inside the cup cutting away any tough stem that won’t bend. Put a ¼ cup of meat filling inside the cabbage leaf and then wrap the leaf tightly around the filling. Remove the cabbage roll from the cup and place seam side down in the prepared pan. Continue until all of the rolls are finished. Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until the meat in the cabbage rolls is cooked through. Serve over egg noodles.
Tip: This is a labor intensive recipe, but it freezes very well. I always make a triple batch of these and freeze them. Then on the days we have after school activities, I put this dish, frozen, in the oven and it is ready to eat when we get home a couple hours later.