Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls are an easier version of classic cabbage rolls. All of the same ingredients we love are cooked together and then ladled over rice, cornbread or for the low carb diners, simply on it's own. It hits all of the same flavor points and preparation is a cinch.
Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls Recipe
I love classic cabbage rolls and my Mom made them quite often for us when I was young. My experience has been that depending on the cook's interpretation of this dish, it can sometimes seem a bit bland and short on seasonings. My Mom's cabbage rolls always had a really good flavor and I wanted to find a simpler way to enjoy the same flavors without steaming the cabbage leaves and rolling in the traditional way. This is my unstuffed version and it's so tasty, that it's landed a regular rotation spot on our dinner menu.
Serve Cabbage Rolls With or Without Steamed Rice
I serve these unstuffed cabbage rolls over steamed basmati rice instead of adding rice to the pot, since the cabbage and rice cook differently. It also gives the carb lovers and keto diners the choice of having it with or without a side of rice. I admit one of my favorite ways to enjoy this is over a piece of hot buttered skillet honey cornbread for a a tasty Southern spin on this cabbage classic.
Helpful Tips for Making Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls
- I serve these unstuffed cabbage rolls over steamed basmati rice instead of adding rice to the pot. The cabbage and rice cook differently so, in this instance, it's best to cook them separately. In addition, as I mentioned before, it also allows both carb and low carb eaters to enjoy the same dinner.
- If preferred, you can omit the Italian sausage and use 2 pounds of extra lean ground beef in this dish. In that case, increase the Italian seasoning to 1 tsp.
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Helpful Kitchen Items:
Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls
- 1 large sweet onion diced
- 1 medium green bell pepper seeded and sliced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
- seasoned salt and black pepper
- 1 lb extra lean ground beef
- 1 lb Italian sausage hot or mild [see Cook's note]
- 2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 lb green cabbage thinly sliced
- 2 16 oz cans Italian seasoned diced tomatoes
- 1 8 oz tomato sauce
- 1 tablespoon brown or granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon dry Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon Italian parsley chopped
- 3 cup cooked rice or Skillet Honey Cornbread
- In a large pot or dutch oven cook the onion and green pepper in a couple of drizzles of olive oil. Cook over medium-high for 5-7 minutes until the veggies soften and are beginning to brown. Season with seasoned salt and black pepper to your taste.
- Add the minced garlic and fennel seeds. Cook until fragrant around 1 minute.
- Add the ground beef and Italian sausage and cook until no pink remains. Drain excessive drippings leaving behind 3-4 tablespoon to cook the cabbage.
- Slice the cabbage into thin strips and remove the core. Add to the pot with the canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, sugar, Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes.
- Taste and adjust the seasoned salt and black pepper to your taste
- Cover and simmer over medium low for 35-45 minutes or until the cabbage has softened. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve over cooked rice or buttered cornbread.