I came across this recipe for stuffed cabbage casserole and I thought it looked and sounded delicious. It also looked like it would take a lot less time to make than stuffed cabbage rolls. I was right--it was very easy to put together. It doesn't taste exactly like a sarmale, but it was the closest I've ever had here.
Mike and I both enjoyed this meal, but we thought the ratio of cabbage to filling was off, so I've adjusted the recipe to reflect that. This recipe makes a large pan full, so we had lots of leftovers. It freezes well so I have enjoyed quite a few lunches from this dish!
Stuffed Cabbage Casserole
Makes a 9x13" pan, about 10 servings
You will need:
1 pound lean ground beef (I used ground turkey)
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 large onion, chopped fine
1 Tablespoon finely minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
1 can (14.5 oz.) petite diced tomatoes with juice
1 can (15 oz.) tomato sauce
1/4 cup water
1 head green cabbage, coarsely chopped into 1 inch pieces
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
2 cups cooked brown rice
2 cups low-fat mozzarella cheese
1. Cook ground beef in a large frying pan until it's browned and cooked through. Remove from the pan and set aside.
2. In the same pan, add 1 teaspoon of the olive oil and the onion and cook until the onion is translucent and starts to turn brown. It will take about 5 minutes.
3. Add in the minced garlic, thyme, and paprika and cook for 2 minutes.
4. Add in the diced tomatoes with juice, tomato sauce, water, and cooked ground beef. Simmer until slightly thickened, about 15-20 minutes.
5. While the meat mixture simmers, heat the remaining 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the chopped cabbage and cook until the cabbage is wilted and about halfway cooked. Season with salt and pepper.
6. When the meat mixture has thickened, stir in the cooked brown rice.
7. Grease a 9x13" casserole dish and layer half the cabbage, half the meat mixture, remaining cabbage, and remaining meat mixture. Cover with foil.
8. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes, until the edges begin to bubble.
9. Remove foil and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Bake uncovered for 20 more minutes.