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.









By far, the most unusual vegetable I’ve prepared since meeting my garden-growing savant of a husband is kohlrabi (pronouced cole-rah-bee). The leaves of the kohlrabi root are reminiscent of cabbage and eventually give way to bulbous flesh with erruptions of random spire-like stems on top.

Kohlrabi comes in white or purple varieties and can be eaten raw (although, peeling it is a good idea). The leaves are edible and can be used in place of collards or kale. A one cup serving provides 140% of your recommended dietary allowance of vitamin C.

Roasting kohlrabi brings out its natural sugars, and since I love the ease of chopping something up and then forgetting about it for half an hour, it’s my favorite prep method.

Roasted Kohlrabi (and any other root vegetables you want to throw in)

Prep time: 5 mins

Cook time: approx 45 minutes

  • 3 cups root vegetables (kohl rabi and/or your choice of: potatoes, carrots, turnips, radishes or parsnips), cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. In a bowl, combine vegetables, oil, salt, pepper and thyme.
  3. Lay vegetables out on a large baking sheet, evenly spaced.
  4. Cook for approximately 45 minutes, or until vegetables are golden brown and tender.

Mustard Greens

Mustard greens from our garden.

Mustard greens from our garden.

The CDC recently released a report saying that southeastern states Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee are the nation’s leaders in preventable mortality (from heart disease, cancer, chronic respiratory disease, stroke and unintentional injury). The cause of this disparity is mostly conjecture, but likely multifactoral (diet, lack of exercise, modes of transportation, socioeconomic status, etc.). I can tell you one thing, it’s not due to a fondness for mustard greens.

These peppery greens are packed with vitamins K, E, and C, as well as copper and manganese. In addition, mustard greens ooze antioxidants, which are thought to prevent certain forms of cancer. Mustard greens are also low in calories and lower cholesterol thanks to their fiber content.

Greens can be cooked slow and low in broth with bacon and onions the traditional southern way, but I prefer to saute them in order to maintain their nutrients.

Sautéed Mustard Greens Two Ways

Prep time: 5 mins

Cook time: 5 mins

  • Large bunch mustard greens, sliced into 1″ pieces
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp sugar

Far out Far East Greens variation:

  • substitute olive oil for 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • substitute cider vinegar for rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
  1. Wait 5 minutes after slicing greens to begin sauteing in order to maximize nutrient content.
  2. Heat olive (or sesame) oil on medium heat in a large saute pan.
  3. Add onions and sweat until translucent. Season with salt and red pepper.
  4. Add greens, vinegar, and sugar, stirring occasionally. Cook for 3 minutes.
  5. Add garlic (and ginger) and cook for 2-3 additional minutes, making sure that garlic doesn’t brown.