Cabbage is kind of a weird vegetable. It is sometimes hard to think of what to do with it. It also has a weird, kind of bitter taste that can be less than palatable to more choosy diners. I have discovered a few ways to handle this. One of my favorites is Cabbage Rolls.
Cabbage Rolls are great for many reasons. First, there is just something fun about a little ball of yummy goodness that you get to open like a present before you eat. Second, they are very filling so you can feed a large family on not very much food. Third, the prep and cooking processes are flexible so you can choose the way that is best for you.
Without further ado, here is the recipe!
2 lbs ground beef, thawed
1 cup cooked rice
1 onion, shredded or chopped very fine
Salt and pepper
1 head of green cabbage
2 14 oz cans tomato sauce
2 Tbsp brown sugar
Salt and pepper
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 28 oz jar spaghetti sauce
In medium mixing bowl, combine beef, rice, onion, and seasonings. Mix until well combined (it's best to use your hands! Squish, squish!). Set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (add 1-2 Tbsp to the water before boiling). Carefully peel the leaves of the cabbage off the head, doing your best to keep from tearing them, though it's not a hopeless situation. Put the cabbage leaves in the boiling water 2 or three at a time for 2 minutes. Remove from water and put in strainer or on dish towel while you do the rest. Bring water back to boil between each batch, adding more water as necessary. While you're waiting for the cabbage leaves, mix up the sauce ingredients if you're cooking right away. If you're freezing these babies, hold off on the sauce.
Basic assembly instructions are as follows. Take one prepared cabbage leaf. Put about 2 rounded Tbsp of the beef mixture on the stem end of the leaf. You're looking to give the roll substance but not overfill it; larger leaves can handle more filling, smaller leaves will need less. Carefully roll the cabbage around the mixture, tucking in the ends as you go, like a burrito. When totally rolled, place seam side down in your dish of choice. Which dish do you choose? Well, pick one of these!
To freeze, place seam side down on foil lined cookie sheet (one that will fit in your freezer). Try not to let them touch. Freeze at least 4 hours, then transfer to gallon size freezer bags. To cook, thaw overnight, or just use them like fresh and cook just a little longer, as described below.
To cook in the oven, mix up your sauce and lightly coat the bottom of your pan with it. How big a pan? However big a pan you need to fit the number you're cooking! I find I can usually get enough rolls in one 9x13 pan. Put in the rolls. Feel free to squish them together, they don't mind. Cover with the rest of the sauce, cover pan with foil, and cook in a 400 degree F oven for about an hour.
To cook in the slow cooker, mix up your sauce and lightly coat the bottom of your slow-cooker with it. Put in the rolls, nice and tight, and cover with the rest of the sauce. Cook on low for up to 8 hours, or on high for 4. Pay attention the first time! Every slow cooker is different, and you don't want your sauce to burn. If you're going to be gone a while and you worry for the sauce, add 1/2 cup water.
To microwave a frozen cabbage roll, heat on high 1-2 minutes until heated through. Top with sauce if you like, or eat plain, or just with sour cream. It's all good.
To serve, serve hot topped with the sauce and some sour cream if you like, with more rice and some steamed or canned veggies on the side. Carrots go really well with this.