This time of year it takes some creativity to cook with seasonal ingredients. There is plenty of cabbage in the market in December and it can easily be used for a delicious main dish. Finding ways to use cabbage is not difficult. Add cabbage to casseroles and soup or sauté it for a side dish. Don’t pass up this healthy, versatile and frugal vegetable when you see in the market.
Italian Style Stuffed Cabbage
Stuffed cabbage rolls are usually made with rice but I like to use orzo because it has a soft texture and gives the rolls an Italian flair. You can use any type of meat but I like the flavor sausage gives the stuffing for these rolls.
Makes 18-21 rolls
1 large head of cabbage placed in the freezer two days before using and then thawed. (It’s easier to roll wilted leaves and eliminates the boiling step)
8 oz pork sausage, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup diced onion
1 cup shredded carrot.
¼ cup chopped green bell pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ teaspoon red chili flakes
1 teaspoon Italian pork sausage seasoning or use a combination of fennel and Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups cooked orzo
Marinara Sauce, see recipe below
Remove as many whole leaves from the cabbage head as you can. I was able to remove 21 leaves from my cabbage. Cut out the core and discard. Chop the remaining cabbage.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat and add the diced sausage. Cook until lightly brown. Place in a large mixing bowl
Add the vegetables to the skillet and saute just until tender. Add the seasonings and place in the bowl with the sausage.
Add the orzo and ½ cup marinara sauce. Mix the filling until all the ingredients are combined.
To assemble the cabbage rolls:
In a greased 9×13 inch baking pan, spread one cup of marinara sauce in the bottom of the dish and sprinkle with the chopped cabbage.
Use about 1/2 cup of filling for large leaves and about 1/4 cup for smaller leaves. Place the filling on the base of each leaf, fold in the sides and roll the leaf up to make a tight packet.
As you complete them, place each roll, seam side down, into the prepared baking dish.. Continue until all the filling is used up.
Pour 2 cups of marinara sauce on top of the rolls and spread the sauce to cover all the cabbage rolls.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Cover the pan with foil and bake for 2 hours or until the cabbage rolls are very tender.
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Half a medium onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
¼ teaspoon red chili flakes
2-26 oz containers of Italian chopped tomatoes (without salt or sugar added, if possible)
Salt & pepper to taste
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan and add the next four ingredients. Saute them for a minute or two. Add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer.
Partially cover the pan and let the sauce cook for about an hour until smooth and slightly thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste.
December 9, 2016 at 11:08 am
Sounds delicious. Good to have your marinara sauce recipe too.
December 9, 2016 at 11:09 am
You are very welcome.
Marisa Franca @ All Our Way
December 9, 2016 at 12:46 pm
We make stuffed cabbage a LOT. We make it German style (Jim’s mom was 100 %) and they call it Pigs in the Blanket. I like your addition of orzo instead of rice. We’ll have to try it. We add sauerkraut in-between the layers plus when we make the cabbage we give it a hot water bath after coring it. The whole cabbage floats in the boiling water and the leaves peel off really easy. When rolling up the meat in the cabbage it is super simple. I’ve yet to make the cabbage for the blog (it makes a lot) and I have a hilarious story to go along with it. Can’t wait to redo our recipe with parts of yours 🙂 Have a great weekend.
December 9, 2016 at 4:52 pm
I like the idea of the sauerkraut. Love to hear the story.
December 9, 2016 at 1:29 pm
What a great idea to put the cabbage in the freezer, Jovina! How did you come up with that one?? I usually use boiling water, but it’s still hard to get nice leaves off the head of cabbage. I think freezing will do the trick!! Thanks so much! That’s PROOF that 2 heads are better than one!~ (talking your head and my head, not cabbage heads!)
December 9, 2016 at 4:53 pm
Thanks Diane. I have been using the freezing method for years. I am not sure where I heard the hint -probably in one of the food magazines but I don’t remember. I just prefer it to the boiling method.
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December 11, 2016 at 11:51 am
This is a traditional Polish dish that I can’t spell – and we use rice! DELICIOUS!!
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