If the traditional method of dunking an entire cabbage into and out of hot, boiling water doesn’t appeal to you, there is a much easier method. With the help of your freezer, you can put the boiling pot away and have soften cabbage leaves as soon as you defrost the frozen head. The downside is that you must plan to allow time for the cabbage to freeze. For best results, freeze the cabbage overnight and remove it from the freezer the morning before making the cabbage rolls. Save any leftover cabbage for a soup or stir-fry.
Learn how to make cabbage rolls.
Level Ups (optional)
Add 2 cups spinach leaves and/or chopped parsley.
Substitute white rice for brown rice or any cooked whole grain. You can also use a jar of premade pasta sauce for the sauce.
Large saute pan
Food processor for finely chopping mushrooms and walnuts (optional)
Spatula for mixing
Chef’s knife or equivalent
9” x 9” baking dish
- INGREDIENTS FOR THE SAUCE:
- 1 (14 ½ ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- ¾ cup water, or more as needed
- 1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
- ½ tsp salt
- INGREDIENTS FOR THE ROLLS:
- 1 large head green cabbage (about 3 pounds)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- ½ of a medium onion, finely chopped (about 2 cups)
- 1 lb mushrooms, finely chopped
- 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp white miso paste
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and grated or minced (about 2 tsp)
- 2 cups walnut pieces (8 ounces), finely chopped
- 2 cups cooked brown rice
- 1 tsp crushed fennel seed
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- Salt to taste (optional)
- Freeze the cabbage: Remove the tough outer leaves of the cabbage, then rinse and core the cabbage. Pat it dry and place the head onto a resting dish and freeze. This can be done at least a day in advance.
- Defrost the cabbage and remove the leaves: Remove 12-14 softened leaves from the cabbage.
- Make the sauce: In a medium bowl, combine the ingredients for the sauce.
- Make the filling: In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring often, until the mushroom liquid evaporates, about 6-8 minutes. Add the garlic and miso paste and cook another minute, incorporating both evenly into the mushroom mixture. Add the walnuts, cooked brown rice, fennel seed, lemon zest and juice, pepper and Italian seasoning and stir to combine. Cook for 1 to 2 more minutes, then remove the mixture from the heat. This can be made a day in advance.
- Assemble the rolls: Pour about half the tomato sauce in the bottom of a 9-by-9-inch baking pan. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350° F. Take one cabbage leaf and lay it up on the cutting board. With a knife, make a V-shaped cut to remove the thick vein, cutting away as little leaf as possible. Scoop a generous ½ cup of the filling onto the leaf near the stem end, leaving space on either side of the filling. Roll up the leaf, tucking in the sides as you go. Place the rolls in the baking pan, seam side down. Repeat this process until you have used all of the filling and the pan is full. It should be a snug fit. You should get 8-10 rolls.
- Finish the rolls: Spread the remaining tomato sauce over the rolls. Use the remaining cabbage leaves to cover the rolls in the pan. Pull more small leaves off the remaining head, if necessary, to completely cover the stuffed cabbages. These leaves will burn, protecting the rolls underneath.
- Bake the cabbage rolls: Bake for 35 minutes, or until the leaves on top have burned and you see the sauce bubbling around the edges. Remove the rolls from the oven, and carefully peel the burned leaves off the top and discard. Let the stuffed cabbages rest for 10 minutes before serving so that the juices settle within the rolls.