Heart Smart-Lazy Person Cabbage “Rolls”

September26

My Mom is Queen of Cabbage Rolls.  Her recipe took years to perfect: getting the right proportions of ground beef and bacon, the correctly matured cabbage leaves, using tomato juice instead of sauce so that the acid in the juice would permeate the cabbage and add to its tenderness.  She has instructed me in all of these nuances but I have actually never made her cabbage rolls.  That is because, I will confess, I am a lazy cook.  My favourite dishes are big platters of delicious ingredients that you just kind of throw together at the end, stroll it into the dining room and have the family go-ahh!

So I am a “lazy” cook, but I am also a frugal one.  We have had beautiful cabbage in our garden share boxes this summer and I have made a couple of slaws to have as a salad or as a topping for pork sliders but I have not been able to keep up to the quantity.  So a couple of weeks ago, I took two complete cabbage heads and blanched them as I have seen my Mom do.  When they were tender, I cooled them and carefully removed the cabbage core, and placed the intact leaves between paper towel and placed them in the freezer for future use.

This week, now that my fall routine of teaching an evening class is upon me, I made up a couple of casseroles in the morning.  I say a “couple” because I find that these kind of meals are just as easy to cook up a double batch and then freeze one or drop it off at the home of a new Mom or elderly neighbour.  In this case, I delivered one to a family who has recently arrived from Great Britain.  I thought that they would get a kick out of tasting stick-to-your-ribs prairie food.

But because I am always trying to find ways to increase fibre and reduce fat in our meals, I modified the more traditional ingredients a bit by using brown rice instead of white, sliced lean ham instead of bacon and replaced the salt with extra garlic.  I think that the experiment was a success.

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Heart Smart-Lazy Person Cabbage "Rolls"
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Ukranian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: scads
 
This is a double batch to share a casserole with a friend
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs. regular ground beef (I don't buy lean but after the meat has been browned, I place it in a colander and rinse it in very hot water to wash away the extra fat)
  • ham (whatever quantity you wish or have in your fridge, it is just for flavour), cut into strips or diced
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 T canola oil
  • 2½ cups of raw brown rice, prepared in advance
  • 2 heads of cabbage, parboiled and separated into leaves sauce
  • 2 cans of tomato sauce (in a pinch use tomato soup as I had to do)
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Brown ground beef, and set aside
  2. Wipe out the saute pan and add canola, onion, garlic and ham.
  3. Cook until fragrant.
  4. Place these contents along with the cooked beef and cooked rice into a very large bowl and stir up with your hands.
  5. Place a small amount of sauce in the bottom of a lasagna pan (I use foil pans so that anyone that I gift it to, will not feel obliged to return the pan)
  6. Place a layer of cabbage leaves into the bottom of two pans.
  7. Evenly spread the meat and rice filling on top of the leaves.
  8. Place a second layer of leaves over top.
  9. Pour one can of tomato sauce over each casserole. If using soup-dilute with ½ cup of water).
  10. Heat in a 375 degree oven, 30-45 until heated through and the cabbage is tender.

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Sorry, I didn’t get a photo of the finished product because, when I got home that evening, it was gone.  Must have been a hit!

Kath’s quote: “Cabbage as a food has problems. It is easy to grow, a useful source of greenery for much of the year. Yet as a vegetable it has original sin, and needs improvement. It can smell foul in the pot, linger through the house with pertinacity, and ruin a meal with its wet flab. Cabbage also has a nasty history of being good for you.”-Jane Grigson

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Love-that is all.

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