Italian-Style Cabbage Rolls are a delicious take on an Old Comfort Food that contains a well-seasoned ground meat, rice, onions with Italian herbs all bundled in a perfectly cooked cabbage leaf and buried in a rich tomato-wine herb sauce with extra cabbage.
The cabbage roll has sometimes been fondly nicknamed “Pigs in the Blanket” an old comfort food casserole consisting of cooked cabbage leaves wrapped around a variety of fillings. It is common to the ethnic cuisines of the Eastern, Central, Northern Europe, The Balkans, Greece, as well as parts the Middle East.
In Europe, the filling traditionally includes meat, often beef, lamb, or pork and is seasoned with garlic, onion, and spices. Grains may also be included such as rice and barley, eggs, specialty mushrooms, and some vegetables. baked, simmered, or done on the stovetop in a covered pot covered with a sauce. The sauce varies widely by ethnic culture and local ingredients in the area.
Our family has our version “The Josie and Millie version” of course, I have, to be honest, those two Italian ladies have ruled the Kitchen and Recipe world since young girls… Below you will find my version of Italian-Style Cabbage Rolls taken from the kitchen of my Grandmother and her sister Millie with fairly simple instructions to make your own.
Italian-Style Cabbage Rolls
- 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 and 1/4 cup vegetable broth
- 1 cup rice
- Dash of Kosher salt
- 1-2 heads of cabbages, cored
- salted water
- 1- 28-ounce can of organic San Marzano Tomato crushed tomatoes
- 1/4 of a cup red wine
- 1/4 cup vegetable broth
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon of dried basil
- 1 teaspoon of finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- pinch of kosher salt
- 1/2 pound of ground beef
- 1/2 of a pound Italian sausage
- 2 ounces of Romano cheese
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 whole cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
- 1 tablespoon of finely chopped rosemary
- 1 teaspoon of finely chopped fresh oregano
- kosher salt, to taste
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- shredded mozzarella cheese, optional topping
Directions for Cabbage Rolls
In a medium saucepan add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 and 1/4 cups of vegetable broth, bring to a boil, then add 1 cup of rice and a dash of kosher salt. Stir rice well, let boil 5 minutes uncovered. Place the tight-fitting lid on rice and turn the burner to lowest setting, till water is absorbed about 10-12 minutes. Turn off heat, remove from heat and allow to cool.
Meanwhile, in a large stockpot filled with boiling salted water, (the stockpot should contain enough water to completely cover the head of cabbage. Do not overfill the pot) place cored cabbage, as the outer leaves cook, remove larger leaves one at a time with long metal tongs, place on plate till ready to use. (Coarsely chop the center cabbage and reserve for later)
In a large saucepan combine 1 large can or 28 ounces of San Marzano crushed tomatoes, 1/4 cup red wine, 1/4 cup of vegetable stock, minced garlic, dried basil, finely chopped rosemary, dried oregano, sugar, and kosher salt. Cook on low heat for about 30 minutes before adding reserved chopped cabbage, stir and remove from heat.
Once the rice has completely cooled mix the cooked rice, ground beef, ground sausage, Romano cheese, finely chopped onions, minced garlic, 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, fresh basil, finely chopped rosemary, finely chopped fresh oregano, kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Mix ingredients thoroughly.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
Cut away a portion of the center vein of cabbage, place even amounts of filling (about 3 tablespoons) on each cabbage leaf toward the center bottom, (just above the removed portion)
Roll the leaf around the filling, by beginning from the cut end of the leaf, roll each leaf up and over the filling, tucking the leaf underneath itself tightly. Tuck the ends underneath and fold the open ends of each leaf underneath them to prevent the roll from unraveling. Place in oven safe glass casserole dish or Dutch oven seam side down. Place a fair amount of tomato sauce over, optional mozzarella cheese, and cover tightly.
Bake tightly covered Cabbage Rolls in 350-degree oven 40-45 minutes.
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