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IMG_3294Cabbage rolls bring back memories for me and I am not completely sure why. Ever have one of those dishes that left a impression on you but you can’t remember the events? This is one of them. I am fairly sure my grandmother made them for me once. I tend to remember everything she cooked as being there on the weekends with her and grandpa were some of my fondest memories. Taylor ham, Johnny and Hanges (the best hot dog joint in NJ), Carvel ice cream and trips in the car to magical places like Gingerbread Forest (now called the Fairy Tale Forest but long closed).

gingerbread forestAll I do know is when I make some of these dishes like the cabbage rolls, I feel warm and fuzzy inside and I crave to sit with her.  Everything you need is tucked right inside this cabbage leaf; veggies, rice, meat and a nice sauce to simmer in. What more could you want?

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You will need:

  • 1 large head of Napa cabbage, round
  • 2 jars of your favorite tomato sauce
  • 3 large red/ orange and yellow peppers(or 12 minis)
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion diced
  • 2 cups of cooked white rice (brown is OK too)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1/3 Cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup Italian style bread crumbs

First thing I do is get my rice on. The rule is 2 cups of water to 1 cup rice and I think that is plenty for this dish. Boil, then turn down and simmer for 20 minutes with the lid on.

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Next chop, chop and chop.  I always get everything ready first, as you know. So start with getting your peppers diced. I used the tiny gourmet peppers. They are easy to use and seem to be less expensive then the big peppers these days. I am still pondering that as these little beauties are organic and packed with flavor.

IMG_3268Dice your onion and garlic then add into a large skillet with 2 tbs of olive oil and heat until veggies turn a nice bright color.

IMG_3269Take your cabbage and gently pull off the outer leaves as these will be your biggest leaves. I did 9 large leaves for this recipe.

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IMG_3271Aren’t they gorgeous? The Napa cabbage makes it so easy to roll. Set aside.

IMG_3281Next put your ground beef on the stove and cook until crumbly and brown. Drain all excess fat and set aside.

IMG_3273The onion and pepper mixture is looking good by now. Check rice and drain.

IMG_3276Add the rice right into the pan with the peppers and onions. Reduce any water out of the pan that came with the rice. Set aside.  In a large stock pot or crock pot, add in one jar of the tomato sauce with the fresh basil.

IMG_3272This will be the base for your cabbage bundles. In a mixing bowl combine the rice and veggies, bread crumbs, and cheese, mix until combined.

IMG_3280IMG_3279Add your drained ground beef to the rice mixture. (*Tip: you can rinse your meat as well with warm water in a colander to remove even more fat)

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Stir well and add about 1 cup of tomato sauce.

IMG_3283Lay out your cabbage leaf on a cutting board or plate.

IMG_3284Fill with about a cup of the mixture, enough so that you have enough room to roll and completely cover with the leaf.

IMG_3285IMG_3286Fold over sides and tuck till secure. You can use a toothpick if you’d like to make sure it remains closed.

IMG_3287IMG_3288Set your roll into the sauce seam side down and repeat.

IMG_3289IMG_3290Add the remaining of the sauce right on top plus one cup of water.

IMG_3291IMG_3292Cook for about two hours on the stove top on medium-low. Looking good! (*If you’re using a crock pot, you can let this baby go on low for about 4-5 hours until your cabbage is tender)

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Serve with your choice of veggies or just with a nice crusty garlic bread. I made some sauteed kale and a crusty garlic bread.  Top with some Parmesan cheese and devour.  Enjoy!

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