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This casserole has all the elements of cabbage rolls—ground beef, onion and rice cooked in tomato sauce—and skips the fuss of rolling. The cabbage is chopped instead and layered with the saucy filling, then topped with cheese, for a satisfying and easy casserole. Feel free to substitute other ground meats, such as turkey, for the ground beef—this recipe would also be great with a vegetarian meat substitute.

EatingWell.com, May 2021

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Read the full recipe after the video.

Recipe Summary

active:
35 mins
total:
1 hr
Servings:
8
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How To Make The Best Cabbage Roll Casserole

Cabbage roll casserole is a comforting low-carb dinner that captures the essence of classic cabbage rolls without the fuss of rolling. Still, there are tricks to making it perfect (and healthy too)! Here's how to make and assemble the best cabbage roll casserole:

The Filling

Classic cabbage rolls have a tangy, tomato-based filling of onion, ground meat and rice. Our cabbage roll casserole has a similar filling, with a few tweaks to make it healthier. We call for lean ground beef which helps cut back on saturated fat. The beef is cooked on the stove-top with onion and garlic to help build flavors along with low-sodium broth and no-salt-added tomato sauce which helps cut back on sodium. Consuming less sodium may prevent (or treat) high blood pressure. (Here are 9 easy ways to cut sodium from your diet.) And finally, we call for long-grain white rice in our filling. Why white rice? White rice cooks faster than brown and the starch from the rice helps thicken the filling. The faster cooking time means the other ingredients in the filling don't overcook.

The Cabbage

We call for green cabbage in our cabbage roll casserole. Before we add it to the baking dish, we cook it in a skillet for 5-7 minutes first. This helps release some of the water so the casserole doesn't get soggy as it bakes. Plus, it allows us to flavor the cabbage with crushed red pepper and dried dill.

The Layers

Once the filling and cabbage is ready to go, the layers are simple. We spray the baking dish with cooking spray to prevent sticking before we add half of the cabbage, followed by half of the beef mixture then half the cheese, then repeat! In 25 minutes, you'll have a delicious cabbage roll casserole ready to enjoy.

Can I Try Variations?

Yes! You can use lean ground pork, lamb, ground turkey, chicken, or even a meat substitute in place of the beef. Instead of dried dill, you can flavor the cabbage with another dried spice like rosemary or thyme, or opt for chili powder or smoked paprika in place of crushed red pepper for a different spin on the flavors. We like tangy Cheddar cheese in our cabbage roll casserole, but any cheese that melts well, like Monterey Jack, Pepper Jack or provolone would work well too.

Ingredients

Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

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  • Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add ground beef and onion; cook, stirring, until the beef is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in broth, tomato sauce, rice, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook, stirring once or twice, until the rice is tender, about 17 minutes (the mixture will be a little saucy). Uncover and remove from heat.

  • Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add cabbage, dill, crushed red pepper and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the cabbage is just tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat.

  • Spread half the cabbage in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Top with half the beef mixture then half the cheese. Repeat with the remaining cabbage, beef mixture and cheese. Bake until hot and the cheese has melted and started to brown, about 25 minutes.

Nutrition Facts

about 1 cup
309 calories; fat 18g; cholesterol 58mg; sodium 362mg; carbohydrates 16g; dietary fiber 3g; protein 20g; sugars 5g; niacin equivalents 5mg; saturated fat 7g; vitamin a iu 542IU; potassium 460mg.
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