The 'Cabbage Series' continues and it just so happens that this is also the first of several recipes I'm sharing with you that come to me from my good friend Jenni. Now Jenni is one of those people that knows a lot about cooking, more than I do for sure. I've watched and learned from her many times when we lived in London and she'd invite me over for dinner - and since, when I've visited her in Toronto. She's the one that gave me the add the carrot to your chili tip, I remember another time when she poured me a glass of a particular wine (I forget what it was now) and gave me a small piece of raw garlic and suggested I take a small bite of the garlic before a sip of wine as it would really bring out this wine. Now I'm the happy recipient of some of her favourite family recipes. I've done a few things differently (I accidentally didn't double everything when I doubled the recipe, for instance), and look forward to playing around with the recipe as time goes on to put more of my own signature on it. She loosely based this on a Canadian Living Country Cooking recipe. As Jenni does, I doubled everything (well, except the tomatoes!) and had plenty to freeze. I had quite the production going on here. As I didn't double everything my results are likely a little different than Jenni's of course. But, we liked it and you could easily add more or less of the ingredients you like the most. My husband loved how it was a very lean and healthy meal, and my one year old Scarlet liked it too - cabbage and all!
So, have some fun with this recipe, tweak it how you like, and by all means try doubling the ingredients if you like to have some freezer meals ready to go.
This will get you started!
For the cabbage rolls:
- One large head of cabbage
- 1 cup (250 ml) onion, finely chopped
- 2 to 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup of red or green bell pepper
- 2 lbs ground turkey (or chicken, pork, beef - or a combination of two of these)
- 2 cups (500 ml) cooked rice (I used brown basmati, as does my friend Jenni)
- 4 tablespoons (60 ml) parsely, chopped
- salt and pepper, to taste
To line the pan and place the cabbage rolls on top of:
- 1/2 to 1 large bottle of sauerkraut (or, if you don't like sauerkraut use chicken broth instead)
For the sauce:
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic (large), finely chopped
- 1/2 cup (125 ml) carrots, shredded or finely chopped
- 2 x 28 oz tins of tomatoes (diced to save on time, but if you prefer to chop them yourself, go for it!)
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) white sugar
- 1/2 cup (125 ml) parsley
- 1 bay leaf (optional)
- Dried basil, oregano (or other favourite spices of yours. Thyme? Rosemary?) to taste
- salt and pepper to taste
Chop the onions, garlic, red/green bell pepper and parsley. (Tip: to save time you could chop the quantity of onion, garlic and parsley you require for the filling and the sauce, then set aside the amounts you require for the sauce)
Heat 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive or vegetable oil in a medium to large frying pan/skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until the onions are soft.
Add the red/green bell pepper and cook until the peppers are soft, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
In the same pan, add the meat and cook until browned. Drain off the excess fat (if any).
Combine the meat mixture with the onion and pepper mixture.
Stir in the rice, parsley, salt and pepper. Mix well. Set aside.
This is a good time to put together the sauce. While it's simmering you can prepare the cabbage and the rolls.
Chop the onions, carrots, garlic and parsley if you did not do so when chopping the vegetables for the filling.
Heat 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive or vegetable oil in a medium to large frying pan/skillet (same one that you used before if you like) over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots and garlic and cook until the onions and the carrots are beginning to soften.
Add the tomatoes.
Stir in the bay leaf (if using), basil, oregano, sugar and any other seasonings you are using.
Bring to a boil. Turn down the heat slightly and simmer, uncovered, for about 25 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper.
While the sauce is simmering, you can prepare the cabbage rolls.
Core the cabbage (be careful!).
Blanch in a large pot of boiling, salted water until the leaves are softened. For kids, blanch a little longer.
Place in a colander and let cool slightly (so it's easier to work with).
Carefully separate the leaves and start rolling. The amount of filling you put on the cabbage leaves will depend on the size of the leaves of course.
Line the pan with the sauerkraut and juice. I used about 3/4 of a large jar for two large casserole pans and one medium-sized casserole dish. Use more or less as is your preference. If you are using chicken broth instead, add it to the pan(s). Place rolls in the pan(s), seam side down. Add the sauce, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes. OR place the casserole pan(s), covered, into a preheated oven 350⁰ F (180⁰ C) for about 1 hour.
NOTE: The sauce is also a great simple pasta sauce - another quick meal idea!