Tender cabbage leaves are filled with savory Italian meats, cheese and topped with my go-to recipe for everything, CrockPot Spaghetti Sauce. These cabbage rolls are sure to impress anyone you serve them too, even your kids. We call Cabbage Rolls “Meatball Surprise Packages” because everyone loves meatballs!
Anthony absolutely loved these cabbage rolls aka meatball surprise packages. He even asked me if there were more for lunch tomorrow!
My grandma always made cabbage rolls in our family, and has always been known for her cabbage rolls, so I took a lot of her advice when I made these. If you’re following my October 2015 Menu, this recipe is a little bit different than the ingredients that I included in the grocery list, but if you’re really sticking to, and following my menu plan, you’ll have everything you need in the pantry or fridge.
Usually when making cabbage rolls you mix up the raw meat, like a meatball and stuff the cabbage with the raw meat, and then bake it. But to speed up this process, I have precooked the meat in a skillet with some veggies so that these Italian Stuffed Cabbage Rolls cook in only 30-40 minutes (depending on how big they are, of course)!
Because I didn’t have the ground pork, and veal that my Grandma uses in her cabbage rolls, I used ground beef and Italian sausage. In the October menu though, I only called for ground beef. If you add the Italian sausage to your CrockPot Spaghetti Sauce, like I suggest in the recipe, but do not include in the grocery list, chop up any leftover sausage and even the meatballs from your spaghetti sauce and add it to the cooked meat to make this recipe, or even just use the leftover cooked meat to make this recipe. Also, if you have it, use leftover rice, which makes this recipe come together even quicker!
I love using my CrockPot Spaghetti Sauce in as many different recipes as I can. It’s always in my fridge, so everything around here usually gets an Italian spin. These Italian Stuffed Cabbage Rolls are super easy to make, and come together in no time at all!
1 head green cabbage
1 lb ground beef
1/2 lb Italian sausage
1 onion, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup cooked brown rice
1 1/2 – 2 cups leftover spaghetti sauce, divided
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/8 cup finely grated parmesan
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1 tbsp olive oil
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Remove rough outer leaves from cabbage. Remove core of cabbage and carefully remove leaves, being sure not to tear any. The darker green leaves are good, but try to get as many of the lighter green, inner leaves as possible – these have the most flavor. Save any leftover cabbage for stir fries or salads.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and cook cabbage leaves 5-6 at a time, until they start to soften – about 5 minutes. Use tongs and carefully remove cabbage leaves from boiling water placing in a colander to drain and cool.
Meanwhile, while cabbage leaves are boiling, in a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil until shimmering. Add onions and green pepper. Season with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning and cook for 5 minutes, until they start to soften. Add ground beef and Italian sausage. Stir to combine the ground meat with veggies and cook, breaking up large pieces of meat until no longer pink – about 10 minutes.
Turn off heat and add 1/2 cup spaghetti sauce, parmesan cheese and rice to meat mixture and stir to combine. Remove from heat and set aside.
Place 1/4 – 1/2 cup of reserved spaghetti sauce on the bottom of a casserole dish.
To assemble cabbage rolls, place a cooled cabbage leaf on a flat surface and add 1/4 – 1/2 cup of filling to the middle – depending on the size of your cabbage leaf. Fold in insides, and then the top and bottom, like rolling a burrito. Place seam side down in casserole dish. Repeat with remaining cabbage and filling.
Pour remaining spaghetti sauce over the top of cabbage leaves – just enough to cover and then top with shredded mozzarella cheese.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the cheese is melted and starting to bubble and brown. Serve cabbage rolls with remaining warmed sauce and some fresh garlic bread.
** Make these Italian Stuffed Cabbage Rolls a freezer meal by preparing recipe according to directions. Instead of baking, cover with foil, and place in the freezer. To cook, lower cooking temperature to 350 degrees and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
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