Cabbage rolls are one of my favorite food to eat. I love the flavor combination of the meat, tomato sauce, rice, and cabbage. However, if you are like me, making cabbage rolls feels like an impossible affair. The cabbage leaves never seem to cooperate and I am left with ripped leaves that don’t work well. That’s why this unstuffed cabbage roll casserole is a fantastic alternative. It has all the flavor of classic cabbage rolls while not being as finicky as you no longer need to carefully wrap the meat mixture in the leaves. This relatively quick to make recipe has become a family favorite. As an added bonus, they can be made ahead of time and stored in the freezer. I always made a few of these as part of our winter preparations.
Unstuffed cabbage roll casserole
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1/2 pound ground pork
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1-2 large cans of tomato sauce
- 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 29oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 Tablespoon dill, fresh or dried
- 3 Tablespoons parsley, fresh or dried
- 1-3 bay leaves
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2-3 cups cooked rice
- 1 large cabbage, chopped or shredded
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Chop all vegetables.
- In a large pot brown meat. Add onions and garlic, cook until fragrant. In a medium pot, cook rice.
- Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, parsley, dill, and bay leaves. Simmer covered for 10-30 minutes. Removed bay leaves.
- Add rice to tomato mixture and stir well to combine. Remove from heat.
- In a large pan, cook cabbage until tender. This will need to be done in batches to ensure none of the cabbage becomes overcooked. Alternatively, you can steam the cabbage for 5-10 minutes. I personally prefer to steam the cabbage.
- Spray a 9×13 baking dish with non-stick spray. Add half of the cabbage, then top with half of the beef mixture. Repeat twice more, finishing with the beef mixture on top.
- Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes.
- Serve immediately. Add a sprinkle of parmesan cheese for extra flavor at serving if you wish. That is my favorite way to eat it.
For the freezer
If you are looking to make some of these ahead of time, they freeze well. Follow the instructions until the baking pan is full. You can still use a glass baking pan or choose to go with a disposable aluminum baking pan instead. Then, allow the entire dish to cool. Cover with a double layer of aluminum foil, being sure to label what it is and the cooking directions. Place in the freezer. This meal can last in the freezer for up to 6 months.
When you are ready, take the pan out of the freezer the day before you want to eat it and let it thaw in the refrigerator. Once thawed, bake for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
If you love cabbage rolls, then consider trying this unstuffed cabbage roll casserole.