Stuffed Cabbage Rolls (a.k.a. Pigs In A Blanket)

One of my least favorite meals growing up was stuffed cabbage rolls. Hated them. In fact, anything with cabbage in it was on my "no thank you" list. It didn't take my Mom long to realize this fact. Eventually, rather than make my sister and I eat the "cabbage package" of the stuffed cabbage roll, she would lovingly shape only the filling into little rectangles for us so that we could avoid the cabbage.

Another one of my mom's favorites was boiled ham and cabbage. Doesn't that sound completely horrendous? Nothing about the name even sells it. Boiled. Ham. Cabbage. Maybe if she gave it a clever name I would've liked it better. The one and only time I ever found myself sitting at the table until I finished my dinner was on a boiled ham and cabbage night. It was a very lonely night at the dinner table.

You can imagine my surprise when I immediately started drooling upon seeing Rose's recipe for Healthy Pigs In A Blanket (a.k.a Stuffed Cabbage Rolls). I get it. I'm extremely food-impressionable at the moment considering my current hormonal state. However, while reading the recipe, I honestly couldn't believe that I was getting excited about a stuffed vegetable.

[although...stuffed mushrooms...mmm...those are good...]

What initially attracted me to this recipe was the fact that Rose used Swiss chard rather than cabbage. I don't so much hate cabbage anymore, but it does still seem a little boring and blah-ish. I planned to stick to the recipe on this one and use Swiss chard and ground turkey.

However. The only grocery store that I felt like stopping by after work is kind of 'inside the box' when it comes to vegetables, so Swiss chard was not an option. Again considering my hormonal state, I decided I wasn't driving across town to go to the natural market. I opted for cabbage instead.

You win, Mom.

I had also planned to make these on Tuesday evening while I was cooking Tuesday's dinner [Shake -N- Bake chicken breasts, fried potatoes, and case you were wondering like I would've been...considering my current hormonal state], but I just ran out of energy. Rather than getting all of the completed rolls nestled into my CrockPot for the night, I ended up only cooking the rice and mixing up the filling, and that was all I had in me.

Last night, prior to going mall-walking (clearly another story for another day), I slapped together all of the cabbage rolls, put them in a baking dish, and baked them at 300 degrees for about 90 minutes while I was mall-walking.

Yes, I've gone from marathoner/triathlete to pregnant mall-walker. But I'm not ready...we'll have to talk about it later.

When I came home from walking, the house smelled amazing. And I drooled.

I wasn't sure if My Gazelle was going to like stuffed cabbage rolls, so I also sauteed some turkey kielbasa with Fuji apple slices for him...just in case cabbage was also on his "no thank you" list. It turns out that he liked both the cabbage rolls and the kielbasa, so that's a win/win for the wife.

Although, he did ask for "more ground turkey" next time. Noted.

The great part about this recipe is that I had enough filling and cabbage leaves left over to be able to put together an entire second pan of rolls. I constructed all of the rolls, put them in a disposable baking tin, poured the sauce on top, popped the tin into a Ziploc bag, and now it's in the freezer. Perfect solution for any future night in which I have another hankering for stuffed cabbage rolls.

Which is very likely, considering my current hormonal state.

Stuffed cabbage
Stuffed cabbage

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls (a.k.a. Pigs In A Blanket)

[Printable Recipe]

  • 1.5-2 lb. ground turkey (or, cannellini beans would be a good veggie substitute)
  • 1.5 cups of cooked rice
  • 1T Basil
  • 1-2 cloves garlic (or 1T garlic powder if you don't have fresh)
  • 1 small onion, chopped (or 1T onion powder if you don't have fresh)
  • Salt & pepper (to taste)
  • 1 T Worcestershire sauce
  • 20 cabbage leaves (or, swiss chard, purple cabbage, etc.)
  • 2 small cans of tomato sauce (I used the 'basil & garlic' variety)
  • 1 small can of tomato paste
  • 2 cups water

1) Cook rice using slightly less water than normal (you're going to be baking the cooked rice, so you don't want it to start off soggy).

2) Mix together the cooked rice, ground turkey, basil, garlic, onion, salt & pepper, and Worcestershire sauce and set aside or refrigerate until needed.

3) Boil a large pot of water. Cut off the bottom "stem" of the cabbage, and place the head of cabbage in the water until the leaves begin to soften and come away from the head. As they peel off, set them aside. This took me about 10 minutes to get all of the leaves off (without ripping them).

4) To assemble the rolls, place a small amount of filling in the center of each cabbage leaf, then fold the sides around the filling to make a little "cabbage package". Here's a good video that explains how to do it: Cabbage Stuffing Video. If you watch the second video, she also explains that you can put the cabbage in the freezer overnight rather than boiling it. Interesting...maybe next time.

5) Place the tomato sauce, tomato paste, and water into a blender and combine all together (you can also do this by hand, but I'm lazy). Pour a small amount in the bottom of a 9" x 13" baking pan, then begin laying your completed cabbage rolls on top. This keeps the rolls from sticking to the pan.

6) After placing all of the rolls into the pan, cover them generously with the remaining tomato sauce.

7) Cover with foil, and bake rolls until the cabbage is very tender and the sauce is bubbling. For me, this was approximately 90 minutes in a 300 degree oven. Alternatively, you could bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.

My Mom always served this with mashed potatoes, and the tomato sauce is so yummy on the potatoes. You can also serve this with pierogies, kielbasa, or a simple green salad and buttered rye bread.


Screen shot 2011-09-08 at 10.01.53 AM
Screen shot 2011-09-08 at 10.01.53 AM

What was your LEAST favorite meal that your parents made you as a child?