Saturday, December 10, 2016

Stuffed Cabbage Casserole


This Stuffed Cabbage Casserole is the best thing I have made all week. In fact, it is SO good that I knew I needed to share it here. Every single member of my family ate it and enjoyed it. Some even went back for seconds. When that happens, I know that a recipe is a keeper.

But here's the thing- this isn't a speedy weeknight dinner. 

I chose this recipe because I was craving stuffed cabbage. And it seemed to me that boiling cabbage leaves, making a tasty filling, then rolling up each leaf, individually, with that filling...only to bake them after all of that work would be super time consuming. Instead, I opted for this seemingly simpler version that employs all of the elements of stuffed cabbage. In fact, I always go with "unstuffed" cabbage type recipes. Over the years I've featured two such recipes on this blog: Stuffed Cabbage Soup and an Un-Stuffed Cabbage Skillet. Both recipes did come together quickly and did not disappoint, and so, with a history of positive experiences with the "un-stuffed" cabbage, I decided that this recipe was the "way to go" to satisfy my craving. And I'm not sorry. If you love stuffed cabbage, you'll love this recipe. Maybe you'll even love it more...

While I had optimistically eliminated the stuffing step in the interest of efficiency, this week's fabulous stuffed cabbage casserole still had lots of other steps happening. There was bacon frying and rice cooking and cabbage chopping and meat browning and sauce making and then....THEN....the baking. About halfway through preparation, I thought to myself, "I wonder if I could have stuffed cabbage leaves by now?"

But I wouldn't know, because in truth, I've never made authentic stuffed cabbage.

I'm not saying that this recipe is time-consuming to discourage any of you, dear readers. It really is totally worth it. This is one of those recipes that I know I will make again. What I'm saying is, this recipe is better suited for a Sunday dinner than say, a busy Wednesday night. Or maybe make it ahead and then serve it up on a busy weeknight.

There you go.

Long disclaimer over.

You've been warned.

Um. Krista? 

Yeah?

A simple "This casserole takes a good bit of time to prepare." would have been sufficient. I could have made the thing in the time it took me to read the introduction to this recipe.

Sorry about that. Being direct and concise in my writing (and conversations) is not really one of my strengths. Perhaps a New Year's resolution may be in order. #goals

In the meantime, feel free to use the down ↓ arrow key to scroll on by and get to the recipe. 😊

Now, let's get on to how this recipe came together.

I began by cooking the rice and frying bacon


While the rice cooks and the bacon fries, start fine-chopping or shredding the cabbage. You want to use a 2 lb. head of cabbage.



Next you'll want to brown 2 lbs. of lean beef with a diced onion in a skillet. I failed to take a picture of the browning of the beef and onion. Be sure to salt and pepper the beef as it cooks. Once it's browned, drain the meat. While the meat drained, I added my spices  and  garlic to the skillet and heated them until fragrant.
Then add the browned beef, rice, and 1 can of tomato sauce to the skillet. Bring to a boil, then simmer for at least 5 minutes.

Now it's time to assemble the casserole.


You want to layer the casserole as follows: cabbage, sauce (beef, tomato, rice mixture), cabbage, sauce, and end with cabbage on top. I sprinkled salt and pepper over each layer of cabbage too. Smooth the sauce evenly over each layer of cabbage.


Top with the remaining can of tomato sauce.


Smooth the sauce.


Now cover and bake for 45 minutes.

Remove the casserole from the oven and sprinkle with cheese. Then return the dish to the oven for another 10 minutes until the cheese is completely melted and the casserole is bubbling nicely around the sides.


Voila!


The recipe says that it serves 12, so I divided it accordingly. Truth be told, with people heading back for seconds, I'd say it serves more like 6-8. So much for serving size! Ooops.


And there you have it, a relatively healthy, awesomely delicious dinner that your family will thank you for. At least mine did...

Here's my over-simplified nutrition analysis for this dish:
Cabbage=a good source of dietary fiber, Vitamin C and K
Ground beef (I used 90/10)= a lean source of protein
Tomato sauce=Vitamin A and C and lycopene
Brown rice= a whole grain! Lots of good stuff including Vitamin B6 and Manganese
Cheese=Calcium
Bacon=who cares if bacon is healthy?!? Bacon is delicious. Bacon=meat candy. And it totally makes this dish. 😃


Cabbage Roll Casserole from Taste of Home adapted by Krista's Kitchen

TOTAL TIME: Prep: 30-45 min. Bake: 55 min. + standing YIELD:12 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds 90/10 ground beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cans (15 ounces each) tomato sauce, divided
  • 1 tablespoon Italian blend seasoning                            
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dill weed
  • 1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 4-6 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 medium head cabbage (2 pounds), shredded
  • 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (I used a blend of mozzarella and cheddar)                            
  • Coarsely ground pepper, optional

Directions

  • 1. Preheat oven to 375°. In a large skillet, fry bacon until crisp. Remove from skillet, drain and crumble. Set aside. Wipe excess grease from the skillet. Add garlic and spices, heat and stir until fragrant. Add ground beef to the skillet. Cook beef and onion over medium to medium-high heat, crumbling beef, until meat is no longer pink. Drain. Salt and pepper to taste. Stir in one can of tomato sauce and rice. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, 5 or more minutes.                                                           
  • 2. Layer a third of the cabbage in a greased 13x9-in. baking dish. Top with half of the meat mixture. Spread evenly and smooth over the top of the cabbage. Repeat layers; top with remaining cabbage. Pour remaining can of tomato sauce over top.
  • 3. Cover and bake 45 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with cheese and bacon. Bake until cheese is melted and casserole is bubbly, about 10 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. If desired, sprinkle with coarsely ground pepper. Yield: 12 servings.

Nutritional Facts

1 piece: 256 calories, 13g fat (5g saturated fat), 56mg cholesterol, 544mg sodium, 17g carbohydrate (4g sugars, 3g fiber), 20g protein.

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