Here’s another round of “I used to hate this as a kid but I’ve since expanded my horizons and developed my palate!” I realized at the start of college that cabbage, while stinky and sometimes frustrating to cook, is yummy and crisp and can be used for so many things. I liked mine on tacos, all raw and delicious.
When I was middle school, someone in my family made cabbage rolls. They were so gross that I took one bite, grimaced, and choked it down. You ask, why on earth would I make these now? For some reason, I had an intense craving for them a couple of months ago and I started looking up recipes. I love a creamy tomato sauce, so I immediately jumped on this one.
While your cabbage is boiling away, you can make the meat mixture. Most people would just add the onion and garlic in raw, which is totally fine. But, I agree with the recipe that cooking them up beforehand adds flavor. I just sauteed them in a tablespoon of butter until soft. Then add salt, pepper, cayenne, and a little dry mustard. The recipe calls for thyme and oregano, but I ran out of those recently.
You’ll notice if you are looking at the page with the instructions that I completely spaced and forgot to add my cooked rice. I had it sitting on the counter right next to me. Whoops. I think it would have enhanced the texture quality of this dish, but it’s still good without it.
I realize this is a terrible picture of a terrible looking situation, but trust me, it’s worth it. Use leftover or torn leaves to line your pan and to cover the rolls while they bake. It protects them from burning!
Put one of your meatballs into the center of your cabbage leaf, and roll it up! I brought the stem up enough to cover the meat, folded in the sides, and rolled the rest of the way. Then you can squish it into an oblong shape.
The recipe recommends pureeing the onions with some water before cooking them for a smoother sauce, but I don’t mind the chunks! Cook up about a cup of finely chopped onions in some butter until they are all soft and delicious. Then add your clove of minced garlic.
Finally, add your cream. Start with 1/3 cup and stir it around to see if you’re happy with it. I didn’t want the flavor of the tomato to be overwhelmed by the cream, but I sure do love a creamy sauce.
Let your rolls cool for a few minutes and then dig in! Simply pour the sauce over the rolls and throw some fresh herbs on there if you have them on hand. Unfortunately, the heat wave that happened about a week ago destroyed all of my herbs except for my basil. Even that was in pretty bad shape last time I checked. I will definitely add some next time, for a little color if anything.