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The want for hearty/healthy chill-weather dishes has me celebrating casseroles and bakes. Using ground turkey instead of beef in these satisfying roll-ups seemed smart, as did the use of a few canned ingredients (crushed tomato and diced green chilies) along with leftover cooked rice to speed the prep. The filling is delicious—so good, you may be tempted to spoon it up on its own. But once the dish is finished in all its tomatoey glory, you’ll be glad you went through with the cabbage leaf tuck-roll-and-bake. So good.
To make the dish, you’ll steam cabbage leaves to bright green pliability. These rest while you make the filling, with onion, garlic, mushrooms, bacon, parsley and peppers adding flavor to the rice and ground turkey.
Tucking and rolling the filling into the cabbage leaves comes next before baking them in tomato sauce. Serve hot, with a little dollop of labna or sour cream if you like. Simple, hearty, satisfying.
Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Ground Turkey & Rice
1 hour, 40 minutes
- FOR CABBAGE CASING:
- 1 large head fresh cabbage, leaves pulled off, washed and separated
- FOR FILLING:
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, peeled and chopped into small dice
- ½ cup chopped portobella or white button mushroom
- ½ red bell pepper, cored and chopped into small dice
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 lb ground turkey
- 3 slices uncured bacon, diced fine
- 2 cups cooked short grain white rice
- 1, 4-oz can diced green chilies
- ½ cup minced fresh parsley
- 1 tsp salt
- 5 or 6 grinds fresh cracked pepper
- FOR TOMATO SAUCE:
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1, 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- 1 Tbsp crushed dried oregano leaves
- 1 Tbsp crushed dried thyme leaves
- ½ tsp chili flakes
- Salt and pepper to taste
- FOR GARNISH:
- ¼ cup minced parsley
- PREP CABBAGE LEAVES: Heat 2 inches of water to boiling in a large pot. Place steamer basket into pot and add washed cabbage leaves. Cover and steam until leaves are bright green and pliable. Remove from stove top; rinse leaves with cool water. Set aside while you make filling.
- MAKE FILLING: Place olive oil and onion in a skillet over medium low heat. Cook until partially softened. Add mushroom, diced bell pepper and garlic and continue cooking until soft. Add ground turkey and diced bacon, breaking up turkey with back of spoon into small pieces. Continue cooking until no longer pink. Scoop mixture into a large bowl. Add cooked short grain rice, diced green chilies, and parsley. Mix well. Set aside.
- PREP TOMATO SAUCE: In a medium-sized bowl whisk tomato paste with olive oil, stir in crushed tomatoes. Stir in herbs and chili flakes. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
- MAKE CABBAGE ROLLS: Preheat oven to 350. Spoon a generous portion of tomato sauce into the bottom of an ovenable casserole dish. On clean worksurface, place one cabbage leaf with bottom edge toward you. Spoon generous portion of filling into bottom edge of leaf. Lift bottom of leaf up over the filling, tucking and folding the sides of the leaf toward the middle. Roll up. Pin bottom flap of leaf shut with a toothpick if desired. Place cabbage roll over tomato sauce in casserole dish. Repeat with remaining cabbage leaves and filling. Spoon the rest of the tomato sauce over the top of the cabbage rolls. Cover casserole dish with foil. Place in oven and bake for 40 minutes until cabbage rolls are tender and tomato sauce bubbling.
- TO SERVE: Spoon some tomato sauce onto each plate. Top with cabbage rolls (be sure to remove toothpicks if you used them!). Sprinkle with minced parsley. Serve hot.
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