Cabbage Rolls Two Ways



It’s winter, and to a farmer that means GREENS. Kale, collards, lettuce, arugula, cabbage, they all grow best in the cooler temperatures of winter. I never get tired of the greens of winter because they are so versatile.

We had some extra cabbage that my husband had picked, so cabbage rolls came to mind. I’d never eaten cabbage rolls and when I began to read some recipes, I was left, well, uninspired. It sounded an awful lot like cabbage surrounding dirty rice with tomato sauce on top. It just didn’t peak my interest (no offense intended to anyone who enjoys traditional cabbage rolls).


I then thought I’d keep the rice, but add some of my favorite Asian flavors and ingredients. As that recipe was coming together, I figured as long as I was trying something new, why not make an Italian version? So, here are non-traditional cabbage rolls TWO ways. I hope you enjoy them!

Asian Cabbage Rolls


Makes 10 small cabbage rolls

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes


1 1/2 cups white jasmine rice, steamed

10 large cabbage leaves (or alternately, 20 smaller cabbage leaves), cleaned and stemmed

2 tbsp sesame oil

1/2 medium onion, diced

1/2 lb ground beef (recommend grass-fed) or pork (recommend pastured)

2 garlic cloves, minced

a healthy splash of mirin

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp sriracha

1/3 cup carrots, shredded

4 leaves bok choy, sliced

1 large bunch cilantro

additional salt and red pepper flakes, to taste


Rinse and prepare jasmine rice as per package directions. Reserve to the side.

In a large saute pan, heat sesame oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook for two minutes, until beginning to turn translucent. Add ground meat, garlic, and mirin. Stirring occasionally, cook until meat is cooked through (about 7 minutes).

While meat cooks, fill the bottom with a double boiler with a 1/2″ water and heat over high heat. Add cabbage to basket of double boiler (alternately, place water and cabbage in a large pot), cover, and steam until pliable and vibrant green (about 3-5 minutes).

In a large bowl, combine prepared rice, cooked meat mixture and remaining ingredients. Lay cabbage leaves on a flat surface and spoon 2-3 tbsp filling into the center of the leaf. Fold sides of cabbage leaf in until meeting in the middle, and roll leaf over until an envelope is formed. Secure with a toothpick if necessary. Serve with spicy mayo.

Italian Cabbage Rolls

Makes 10 small cabbage rolls

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 60 minutes


1 cup orzo

1/2 lb ground beef, veal, pork, or lamb

1/2 medium onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 red bell pepper, seeded with pith removed and sliced

1/3 cup parmigiano reggiano, shredded

1/4 cup basil, chopped

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp red pepper

10 large cabbage leaves, cleaned and stemmed

1 15 oz can crushed tomatoes (recommend San Marzano)

1 5.5 oz can of tomato paste

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup water

1 tsp Italian seasoning

salt and red pepper, to taste


Preheat oven to 350F.

Cook orzo to al dente as per package directions.

Mix orzo, ground meat, onion, garlic, parmigiano reggiano, basil, salt, red pepper in a large bowl. Lay cleaned cabbage on a flat surface. Spoon two tablespoons of mixture into the center of your cabbage leaf. Roll sides of cabbage leaves in until  they meet in the middle, then roll the leaves over until an envelope is formed.

In a small bowl, mix together crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, vinegar, water, salt and red pepper. Pour tomato sauce mixture over cabbage rolls. Bake for about 60 minutes, until stuffing is cooked through.








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