Hungry Family Cabbage Bundles

Fresh CabbageOne of my favorite dinners growing up was Stuffed Cabbage.  But in a family of 11 kids, you know my Mom wasn’t about to make all those cute little pillows that you see in the foodie magazines.  No, when Mom made stuffed cabbage she made sure each one was a full meal deal.  I’m sharing this with you to help explain why these particular cabbage rolls might look a little different than what you might expect.  Anyway, on to the recipe!

When I saw that my little neighborhood grocery store had fresh cabbage, I was instantly inspired to make cabbage rolls.  I grabbed a head and started to fill my basket with the other items I needed, and then stopped.

Normally, I use a mix of ground beef and ground pork for the filling, along with a mixture of spices.  This time, I decided to take a shortcut AND get a ton of flavor at the same time.  I decided to use Jimmy Dean Hot Sausage.  Of course, you can use any kind of meat you want, but this little trick added a lot of flavor, texture, and eliminated the need to use any spices.  It turned out to be a useful, and tasty little shortcut, indeed.

So, here is my homage to my Mom’s huge cabbage rolls.  I hope you get a chance to try them.

Hungry Family Cabbage Bundles

  • 1 head cabbage
  • 1 lb. Jimmy Dean Hot Sausage
  • 1/2 med. size onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced or grated
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (8 oz) can tomato paste
  • sprinkle of white wine vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
  • 4 cups chopped cabbage
  • olive oil to cook cabbage
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa (or rice)

Cabbage preparation

Prepare the cabbage:

  1. Peel off the loose unedible leaves (if any) from the solid head and discard.
  2. Wash the head of cabbage under running water, then gently peel off six to eight of the nice outside cabbage layers and set aside. (I cut out the stem portion from each leaf because I think they stay tough.)
  3. Cut the remaining cabbage in half, cut out the core, and cut into thin wedges, then chop until you have a coleslaw looking pile of cabbage; set aside.

Cabbage blanch

Blanch the cabbage leaves:

  1. Put the six to eight cabbage leaves in a metal colander strainer that fits in a large pot; set strainer in pot.
  2. Fill the pot with water making sure the cabbage leaves are covered.
  3. Put pot on burner on high and bring to a boil.
  4. Boil for 4 to 7 minutes or until the cabbage leaves are softened, but not mushy.
  5. Lift the strainer out of the water and set aside to drain and cool the cabbage leaves.

Cabbage filling ingredients

Prepare the filling:

  1. In a large skillet, put the sausage over medium-high heat, breaking up with a spatula.
  2. Cook until sausage is browned slightly, then add onion and continue cooking until sausage is cooked all the way through and onions are soft; stir in garlic and sprinkle lightly with vinegar, taste and add more vinegar as desired to reach a nice flavor.
  3. Turn heat down and simmer slowly while you prepare the cabbage.
  4. Put 4 cups of the chopped cabbage in a separate skillet over medium-high heat with a generous drizzle of olive oil; cook, stirring often, until cabbage is softened.
  5. When cabbage is soft, add it to the skillet with sausage/tomato sauce, then stir in the quinoa, mixing until sauce is combined well; remove from heat.

Cabbage rolls ready to bake

Fill the cabbage leaves:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and get out a casserole dish with a cover and spray or butter it a little.
  2. Spoon about 1 to 2 cups (depending on how big your casserole dish is) into the bottom of the casserole dish forming an even layer for the cabbage rolls to sit on.
  3. On a cutting board or baking sheet, lay out a cabbage leaf.
  4. Spoon a good portion of the filling into the middle of the cabbage leaf and roll up lengthwise, then lay in your casserole dish, seam side down.
  5. Continue with each leaf using up as much of the filling as you wish and tucking each one in the casserole with the seam side down.  Remember, any filling that you don’t use up will be a welcome leftover! You’ll see only four cabbage bundles in my picture.  I made two small casseroles with four in each.

Cabbage roll done and on the plate

Bake:

  1. Cover and put in preheated oven at 350 degrees for about 35 to 40 minutes or until hot, bubbly, and the leaves get nice and soft and the sauce starts to brown around the edges of the casserole.  Remove and let sit for a few minutes, then serve hot.
  2. I scooped a little of the filling from the bottom of the casserole alongside the cabbage bundles just for fun and a bit of color. Enjoy!

In terms of cost for this filling meal, we’re looking at a very frugal dish.  The sausage was the most expensive at about $5 for the pound.  But considering it takes no further spices, herbs, or seasonings, the price is pretty reasonable.  Then I had about $2.50 in tomatoes, and I paid less than $1 for the cabbage.  The other ingredients, the onion, garlic, vinegar, and the 1/2 cup of cooked quinoa add up to less than $1.  You can stretch this meal to feed more by adding more quinoa or rice, but it’s a very filling dish and feeds 6 to 8 people as-is.  Adding chopped cooked cabbage to the filling as I did actually does more to stretch the meal than anything.  So, for about $10 you can easily feed a hungry family!

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