Rolling with the Cabbage

The internet diet continues. Two weeks down, about a month to go.

My cynical gen-X self finds hipsters with their huge beards, tight pants and chevron everything an easy target for mockery, but where food is involved the truth is that I’m right in there with them. Both Simon and I like to cook and we usually eat pretty well. Organic vegetables get delivered once a week. Meat comes from the butcher down the street. I regularly make stock from vegetable peelings and roast chicken remains while drinking from our stock of craft beer. The whole lorganic shebang.

Since I work from home, one of the benefits to my reduced slothing is more time to putter in the kitchen. I’ve always been intimidated by cabbage rolls. Love eating them, but I generally don’t like cooking dishes with lots of steps. An abundance of cabbage in the vegetable delivery this winter and a short-cut courtesy of the butcher finally convinced me to give them a try and wow were they yummy. I really didn’t like boiling the cabbage and handling the hot wet leaves, but thankfully the internet provided a much easier freezing method. It requires planning ahead, but is so very simple. And with that, I present today’s project:

Hipster Cabbage Rolls

Makes about 10 (3 roll) servings


  • 2 small/med (or 1 large) heads green cabbage
  • 6 cups tomato sauce (I make my own because tomato sauce is crazy easy)
  • 2 cups uncooked brown rice
  • 4 cups stock or water
  • 1kg package uncooked smoked beef brisket meatloaf (Butcher By Nature partners with a barbeque place to make a loaf with smoked brisket ends. The smokiness makes these cabbage rolls incredible, but I suspect that any yummy meatloaf should do the trick.)
My secret ingredient.

The secret ingredient


Place the cabbages in a plastic bag and stick them in the freezer. The night before you want to make cabbage rolls, take them out of the freezer and leave them on the counter overnight to defrost. This makes the cabbage leaves easy to peel off and roll-up without having to ever boil an entire head of cabbage.

Make tomato sauce:

  • 2 12oz cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2tsp each oregano, thyme, and basil.

Stick it all in a crockpot for the day or simmer in a pot for an hour or two.

Actual Preparation:

  1.  Cook the rice and stock/water in a rice cooker.
  2.  Mix the cooked rice with the meatloaf in a big bowl. This will be the filling.
  3.  Core the cabbage with a small knife.
  4.  Oil up 2 – 12cup baking trays (I use cooking spray). I like to make two 4-serving casseroles and freeze one, but the size of the container doesn’t really matter. Use a big dutch oven and stack the rolls up, or go with smaller trays and make a bunch; it’s all good.
  5.  Spread 1/2 cup tomato sauce in the bottom of each casserole dish.
  6.  Begin rolling: For each roll, peel off a cabbage leaf or two and spoon 1/2 cup or so of filling onto the centre. Fold up the sides, roll up the leaf, and place it seam side down in the casserole dish.
  7.  Pour the remaining tomato sauce over top of the cabbage rolls.
  8.  Cover and bake at 350F for 2 hours.
Assembled cabbage rolls

Assembled cabbage rolls

Ready to bake.

Ready to bake


About Renee

Fortysomething mom, wife and mechanical engineer. Currently working out plans to found a retirement home circus troupe.
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