Growing up, my mother always made the best stuffed cabbage but as an adult, I filed it away as something that was too frustrating to make. Every time I’d try, I’d rip the leaves and end up with what I deemed “Unstuffed Cabbage Soup.” It was delicious, but it wasn’t the stuffed cabbage I remembered and wanted to replicate.
Finally I learned. And tonight when I decided to make it for dinner, I figured I’d take pictures to show you how I do it for when I’m only making a few. This recipe is based for two people, so I only used one pound of ground beef and it made five large stuffed cabbages. Depending on the amount of people you’re serving or if you’re making it to freeze, you may want to double/triple the recipe.
Typically, stuffed cabbage is softer than a meatball and is made with white rice. I used this recipe for the meat filling and added a bit of oregano and it worked just fine. You can really use whatever meatball like recipe you like, rice optional. If you do use rice, it would be 1/2 c. cooked in place of your binder (I used pork rinds in this case but you can use almond flour, or whatever your heart desires.)
Also, for the tomato sauce it is baked in, you can use a large can of tomato puree with some added salt and pepper to taste. I, however, decided to use this:
I had bought it last week for dinner when my mouth was too sore from the dentist to chew and I would have rather cried than cook at that point. It was delicious but a little too sauce-tasting-like for a soup for me, so I put it aside to use for this. It was amazing and if you can tolerate a little rice flour (it is gluten-free though) than I highly recommend it. I found it in Target on the top shelved by the soup (and their Winter Squash soup was fantastic).
But now, on to the pain-in-the-tookus part: Getting the leaf of the cabbage off in one piece. If you want to make a LOT of stuffed cabbage and use the whole head, simply cut out the core, place in a large sauce pot, fill with water, and bring to a boil. Boil around 10-15 minutes until the leaves come off easily. But sometimes, you only want a few and don’t need an entire head of boiled cabbage. In this case, this is how I do it.
First: buy a large head of cabbage. Even though you’ll only be using a few leaves, save the rest. Make this soup!
Set a large pot of water to boil. Peel off the outer wilted leaves, usually 1-3 deep. Then, locate the outer most leaf and follow it back to the core:
Take a shark knife and simply cut that vein. Wiggle it gently with your finger until it starts to pull away:
Gently peel the whole leaf off:
Now, cut the core vein out:
Take the leaf and ease into the pot of boiling water, completely immersing it.
Hold under the water with tongs for 8-10 seconds and then pull out. Color should be greener and leaf will be soft. Place on paper towel.
When you’ve completed this for the amount of leaved you need, get ready to roll! (Hint: removing the leaves gets harder as you get further, which is why I recommend buying the biggest head of cabbage you can find.)
Place your meat:
If you have a leaf that didn’t come out great and is ripped in a few places, I find it easier to put the meat on one end and roll it. This way you can tuck in the broken pieces:
Place in a baking dish with a shallow coating of your choice of tomato sauce (Please ignore the sad state of all of my Pyrex baking dishes. I cook A LOT. If anyone wants to buy me more, my birthday is next week, ha!):
Place as many as will fit in your baking dish:
Cover with additional sauce:
Cover with tin foil and bake at 375 for 45 minutes. Top with fresh grated Parmesan and serve:
I, of course, put this over the leftover spaghetti squash from the other day and put on tons of sauce and it was amazing! Like a thick, warm, hearty stew/soup hybrid. You can also serve as a main dish with veggies. Enjoy!
Do you have any other tips or tricks for stuffed cabbage?