During this COVID-19 pandemic, a cabbage roll craving hit. I was thinking a little comfort food goes a long way. A head of cabbage makes plenty to share too. Gave some to my Toronto kids.
These are not 100% traditional. I wanted to lighten up the recipe with a ground turkey filling loaded with tons of flavour. I also thought a slightly sweet and sour taste would work too. One other time saving step was to add uncooked rice. I was a little concerned it would cook, but guess what? It did! The trick is enough moisture and cooking time.
The final result did not disappoint. My son who doesn't exactly love cabbage rolls as a fave, said these were "really good Mom".
This makes a bunch. So you will still have plenty in the freezer for when the craving hits again.
Cabbage Rolls with Ground Turkey Filling
1 large head of cabbage (about 3 lbs.) – or use 2 smaller heads
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, diced
4 large cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds ground turkey
3/4 cup uncooked long grain rice (brown or white)
1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
freshly ground pepper
1 to 2 large dried bay leaves
water, fill emptied tomato can with water
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cut center core out of cabbage and place, core side down, in boiling water. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
While cabbage simmers, heat oil in pan over med-high heat and sauté onion and garlic 3-5 minutes until browned. Transfer mixture to a large bowl to cool.
Remove cabbage to a rimmed baking sheet, keeping water in the pot. Gently remove leaves from cabbage, cutting away from the core with a small knife. Set aside the best 16 unbroken leaves and cut off the thick spine in the center for easier rolling. Set all remaining broken or small cabbage leaves aside. (If the core is too firm, keep returning it to boiling water for a few minutes to soften)
Preheat oven to 350° F.
To cooled onion mixture, add the ground turkey, rice, about 1/4 cup of the diced tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Combine well.
Place about 1/4 cup of filling in each leaf. Fold bottom up, fold in the sides, and roll.
Line a large pot or Dutch oven with cabbage leaves that are not being used for the rolls.
Place each roll seam side down. Pack in all the rolls.
Pour the remaining diced tomatoes, water, bay leaves, about 1 cup of the cabbage water, honey and vinegar over rolls. Cover with a foil lined lid. Ensure you add salt and pepper to taste.
Bake for at least 1 1/2 hours.
Remove from oven and let rest 30 minutes or refrigerate overnight. To freeze individual portions, put about 2 in a sandwich bag. The freeze and microwave as needed.
To serve: In individual bowls, add some juice from the pot, two rolls, top with some Parmesan cheese, maybe some yogurt or sour cream, and freshly ground pepper to taste. Any or all of the above. :)