When I first posted on Facebook that I was working on this recipe, one of the first questions I got was, “What’s an Italian Cabbage Roll”?
What this person was asking was, what is it about this recipe that makes it Italian as opposed to any other sort of cabbage roll.
I have to say, I was stumped at first. Not because I couldn’t describe my own recipe, but because based on the ingredients alone, I was suddenly second guessing my recipe naming abilities, not to mention my culinary geographical knowledge. I mean, a cabbage roll is a cabbage roll, right? Why exactly was this one Italian?
Well lets start from the beginning. Many cabbage roll recipes call for rice, but I wanted something a little more low carb. So I left out the rice, and started thinking about what spices I could add to make things taste good regardless of the lack of grains.
Mini Chef was having spaghetti and broccoli for dinner that night which really put me in the mood for pasta (An Italian dish. See where this is going?)
So I grabbed my bottle of basil and then figured I’d go all the way and add some Italian spice as well. (please tell me you see where this is going…)
By the time I got done, I had a very nicely spiced meat mixture to fill my cabbage leaves with. And funny enough, the flavor of the mixture reminded me of the spaghetti Mini Chef was having for dinner.
So as you can see, my recipe naming skills are a bit roguish. I kind of follow my frazzled mom-brain wherever it leads me when I need to come up with a recipe title. So for these reasons alone, these cabbage rolls are Italian. And there you have it. Mangia! Mangia!!
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- 1 tbsp. oil
- ½ large yellow onion, chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 lb. lean ground turkey
- 1 tbsp. Italian Seasoning
- 2 tsp. dried basil, divided
- 1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes (or fresh, chopped tomatoes with some slightly blended)
- 1 medium head of green cabbage
- Salt to taste
- Parmesan cheese (optional)
- Steam your head of cabbage until it will easily peel (about 15 minutes), allow to cool.
- In a skillet, sauté the onions, garlic and turkey meat in the oil.
- Once the meat is browned, add the spices (only 1 tsp. of dried basil) and continue cooking until the meat is just cooked (don't overcook it). Add salt to taste and adjust seasonings to suit your tastes.
- In the bottom of a large casserole dish, spread the diced tomatoes over the bottom of the dish and stir in the remaining basil. Add salt as needed to suit your tastes.
- Be sure you like the seasoning on both the tomatoes and the meat (separately). Baking won't improve the flavor in this case, so these have to taste good before that (just be sure the meat is cooked before you taste!)
- Remove the core of your cabbage, using a knife at first and then pulling it out from the bottom with your fingers. This will make the leaves easier to separate. (or you can just pull them off if you prefer)
- Lay a cabbage leave on your work surface and spoon about 2-3 tbsp. of meat into the center and roll like a burrito.
- Place the rolls in the sauce inside the casserole dish. Press it down gently into the sauce and pack them tightly against each other.
- Bake at 350 F. for approximately 30 minutes.
- Serve with sauce ladled over the rolls and sprinkle with parmesan if desired.
- FREEZING INSTRUCTIONS:
- Follow steps 1-8.
- Cover the cabbage rolls well so no air can get to them. (I press 1 layer of plastic wrap into the casserole dish to avoid any air sitting between the plastic and the top of the dish. Then I cover the whole thing with plastic wrap again.
- Freeze for up to 3 months.
- To serve, thaw in the fridge for 24 hours, then follow steps 9-10.