CABBAGE ROLLS

Recipe shared by Marg Power (Toronto, Ontario)

If someone was visiting from Nova Scotia, Mom would always have a batch of these ready – and not simply because she was a wonderful hostess (which she was), but because they were requested. Cabbage rolls were a mainstay at family get-togethers, and especially at Christmastime when my parents would have a lot of company drop in. Mom confessed that these were a lot of work to make, but not because they’re particularly difficult but because she made so many! (Twenty-plus roasting trays full of cabbage rolls was not unheard of!) Filling and delicious, you couldn’t eat more than a couple if you wanted to save room for dessert. Today, my sisters and I carry on the tradition and make these at Christmas too – but not nearly as many. This recipe makes about 24 cabbage rolls, which are best served with fresh bread and a simple side salad.

2 large heads of cabbage
3 pounds lean ground beef
1 ½ – 2 cups long-grain converted rice
2 large cans of crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon crushed red chilli pepper flakes
1 large can tomato sauce
4 cups tomato juice
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
1 – 2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 – 2 teaspoons onion powder

  1. Boil cabbage leaves about 2 minutes or until soft (See note below for removing leaves) and set aside to cool.
  2. Preheat the oven to 300°F.
  3. Cook rice as directed on the package, but reduce the cooking time by about 5 minutes, so it’s slightly undercooked (it’ll continue to cook later). Set aside to cool.
  4. In a large skillet over medium heat, brown the meat with the spices and seasonings. Continue to cook and stir the meat until no trace of pink remains. Drain any fat then stir in the par cooked rice, cans of crushed tomatoes, and ½ the can of italian tomato sauce
  5. Spread the remaining half-can of tomato sauce in a very thin layer in a 9×13 baking pan.
  6. Lay the slightly cooled cabbage leaves flat and add about 1/3 cup filling to the center of the leaf. Fold in the sides and roll the cabbage up. Place the rolls seam side down in the pan. Repeat with remaining cabbage.
  7. Pour tomato juice over the cabbage rolls and sprinkle more of the spices over top. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 90 minutes. Remove foil cover and return to the oven to cook for a further 75-90 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes before serving.

Note: To remove leaves from the head of cabbage, cut approx ¼” off the bottom of the head and place the whole head of cabbage in boiling water and boil for about 2 minutes. Peel off the softened leaves and then place the remaining head back in the boiling water and repeat until all of the leaves are removed. Remove any tough stems/veins from the cooked leaves.