Cabbage Rolls

Cabbage rolls by Beth the BakerOne of the (many)foods that I love is cabbage rolls. My Grandmother made delicious cabbage rolls (as does my mother who learned from Grandma). I’ve had other peoples’ cabbage rolls – frozen, others’ homemade…. sorry. None of them are as good as my Grandmother’s. I’ve tasted them with a creamy sauce (meh) and various versions. I just prefer Grandma’s recipe from Lithuania.

Oddly, I have always just made these by “look”.. not really following a recipe. I just make them the way I remember Grandma (and my mom) making them. However, I made these recently for my father’s birthday and looked up my Grandmother’s recipe… and I pretty much follow it!

Also… my sister is a vegan and my one niece is a vegetarian, so I made some of these using textured soy protein (Yves’ Ground Round) instead of the meat and both said they tasted just like they remember cabbage rolls tasting!

*DISCLAIMER*although I HAVE used Kasha to make cabbage rolls (one time years ago), most times I just do a mixture of half rice, half meat because that’s the way my father always likes them. Plus, I just don’t think to buy Kasha (which is already roasted when you buy it, just so you know…)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 lbs ground beef (or half beef/half pork – I have done both)
  • 4 cups cooked rice
  • 1 cup roasted Kasha (buckwheat groats)
  • 2 medium onions chopped and fried in butter with 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 very large cabbage (or 2 smaller ones)
  • 2- 28oz cans crushed or stewed tomatoes
  • 1 large can of tomato juice
  • One can of tomato sauce (I usually have a couple on hand to make sure the cabbage rolls don’t dry out)

Fry onions in butter with the garlic. Mix meat, rice, onion mixture and salt and pepper. Add about 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce to the meat and rice and mix. I look for a pretty even mix of meat vs. rice.

In the meantime, core the cabbage and put into boiling water or a steamer. As leaves pull away, remove from water and drain and cool. You’ll likely need about 12-24 cabbage leaves… it depends on the size of cabbage and how large you like yours! (I like them on the large size). One trick my mother taught me was to cut off part of the “spine” of each cabbage leaf – makes the leaves easier to roll. Make sure you set aside some of the cabbage leaves to cover the cabbage rolls in the pan.

Place about 2 tablespoons of filling into each cabbage leaf and roll, tucking in sides so filling doesn’t fall out. Pour about a cup or so of tomato sauce onto bottom of pan so rolls won’t stick. I usually do a giant batch of cabbage rolls and put them all into a large roasting pan. You can also split it up and put in two 9 x 13 pans. Roll up all your filling and cabbage leaves and arrange in pan – use left over cabbage leaves to cover the rolls. Pour canned tomatoes over cabbage rolls, sauce and juice until pan is full. Bake at 350F for about 1 1/2 – 2 hours or until cabbage is tender.

When I make these, I always make loads as they freeze well and are great for sending with Josh when he heads back to Oakville!

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