Stuffed Cabbage Casserole



Serves 8
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 large head green cabbage, coarsely chopped {approximately 3 1/2 pounds chopped}
2 tablespoons {more or less} extra virgin olive oil, divided
salt and freshly ground pepper, for seasoning the meat and cabbage to taste
1 pound lean ground beef {I use Laura’s Lean Ground Sirloin, 96% Lean, 4% Fat}
1 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 – 14.5 ounce petite diced tomatoes {I use Muir Glen Organic Fire Roasted Petite Diced Tomatoes}
1 – 15 ounce tomato sauce {I use Muir Glen Organic Tomato Sauce, no salt added}
1/4 cup water {just enough to rinse out the tomato sauce can}
canola or olive oil cooking spray, for your baking dish or pan
2 cups low-fat shredded cheese {I use Sargento 4-cheese Italian blend}
Create the Stuffed Cabbage Casserole:
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, with oven rack positioned in center of oven.
2.  Cook rice according to package directions, enough to yield 2 cooked cups.
3.  While rice is cooking, cut cabbage in half, cut out the core, and remove any wilted outer leaves.  Coarsely chop. Heat about 1 tablespoon evoo in a large saute pan or dutch oven with lid, add the cabbage and cook over medium-high heat until the cabbage is wilted and about half cooked, turning it over several times so it all wilts and cooks.  Season the cabbage while cooking with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.  Set aside when done.
4.  Heat 1 – 2 teaspoons evoo in a large frying pan {amount will depend on how lean your ground beef is}.  Add ground beef and cook until nicely browned, crumbling as it cooks.  Remove from pan and set aside in a bowl.
5.  In the same frying pan, add a little more evoo, if needed.  Add the chopped onion and cook over medium heat until translucent and starting to brown, about 5 minutes.  Add the minced garlic, dried thyme, and paprika and cook approximately 2 minutes more.  Add the diced tomatoes with juice, tomato sauce, and ground beef.  Fill the tomato sauce can with about 1/4 cup water, swish to rinse can, and add to the pan.  Let the mixture simmer until it’s hot and slightly thickened, about 15 – 20 minutes.  Last step, stir in and combine the 2 cups of cooked rice.
6.  Spray a large glass 13″ x 10″ casserole dish, or a 12″ cast iron pan, with non-stick spray.  Layer half the cabbage onto bottom of casserole dish or cast iron pan.  Using the back of a spatula, press down the cabbage to slightly compress.  Layer half the meat mixture on the cabbage, the other half of the cabbage mixture, slightly compressing once again, and finish off with remainder of the meat mixture.  Cover tightly with foil and bake 40 minutes, or until the mixture is hot and heated thoroughly.
7.  Remove the foil and sprinkle the cheese over the top.  Bake uncovered an additional 10 minutes, so the cheese begins to melt.  Keeping the casserole in the center of the oven, turn on the broiler, and broil just until the cheese becomes slightly browned.  Serve hot.
8.  The casserole keeps nicely in the refrigerator, covered tightly with plastic wrap, for one week, or can be frozen.



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