I can honestly say I have never had a cabbage roll, until now.
I love cabbage (especially with corned beef) so I was pretty sure they would be good, but they never stood out to me. That is, until I saw them posted on Smitten Kitchen. Of course, anything posted there looks great, so its no wonder.
I am also in love with these because they are "Italian" style. Pretty much its a meatball wrapped in cabbage with no spaghetti noodles and sauce. Same thing... right?
What really makes these different is the pork filling. Sage and pork is just a perfect pair, and adding in some fennel seeds sends the flavor over the top!
I think I'll just stick to eating these cabbage rolls. No need for new ones when the first is so good.
Time : 2 hours
Makes: 12 cabbage rolls with sauce
Inspired by: Smitten Kitchen
- 1 large or 2 small cabbage heads
- 3/4 cups fresh breadcrumbs **
- 2/3 cup whole milk
- 1 lb ground pork
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 1 sprig sage, chopped
- 1 sprig rosemary, chopped
- 2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 Tbsp garlic, minced
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 28 oz (or 2 14 oz) cans crushed tomatoes, no salt
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp garlic, minced
** For my fresh breadcrumbs, I bought a 10 oz loaf of bread and removed the insides. I then broke those up in bowl and measured out what I needed.
Boil a large pot of salted water. While the water is boiling carefully (this part tested my patience) peel the cabbage leaves apart. The first few outer leaves get thrown away. When the water is done boiling add in the leaves (I did about four at a time) and blanch for about a minute. Take them out and place on a paper towel. The cabbage leaves should be bright green and wilted.
For the Filling:
Place the fresh bread crumbs and whole milk in a bowl and mix. Let sit for 5 - 10 minutes or until you can mash into a paste.
Pour the bread/milk paste on top and mix everything thoroughly. Set aside.
Once all the cabbage leaves are blanched start assembling. Grab a wilted leaf and place on a baking sheet. Grab about 1/4 cup of filling, roll in a ball, and place in the middle of the cabbage leaf.
Fold one end over the filling. Fold the sides in and then the other end over the top.
Pour the olive oil into a large stockpot or Dutch oven and heat over medium. When hot add the garlic and saute until golden, but not brown. Add the crushed tomatoes and salt to taste. Bring sauce to a boil.
Once boiling add in the cabbage packets and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer for 25 minutes. Remove toothpicks and flip cabbage packets over. Simmer for another 25 minutes.
When ready to serve, remove the cabbage packets and top with sauce. Grate some fresh Parmesan over the top and get ready to dig in!!