While I love to experiment with the latest and craziest health food trends, like hemp seed pesto and spirulina burgers topped with beet root ketchup…my family much more appreciates the classics. They respond better to tried and true recipes, like these lamb stuffed cabbage rolls, then they ever do my fancy plant based innovations.
I still mix it up, finding that if I gift them with a classic dinner on occasion, I have a little more freedom to make tempah and kale meatballs the next night.
This recipe may be reminiscent of food your grandma made, but it meets all my nutritional criteria – Grandma was on to something! This meal is gluten free, vegetables are incorporated throughout, I use a light portion of quality meat, and it all comes together to create a meal you can make with a busy schedule that doesn’t disappoint even your biggest critics.
Lamb Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
1 large head Savoy cabbage, separated into leaves (approx. 10-14 leaves)
4 T. olive oil
1 large white onion (or 2 medium), chopped
1/2 tsp. Herbamare seasoning (or sea salt)
1 large carrot, shredded
1 medium parsnip, shredded
3/4 pound ground organic lamb (could also use organic grass fed beef or organic ground chicken)
3/4 cup basmati rice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cups crushed tomatoes
1 T. crushed garlic
1 T. smoked paprika
Bring a large pot of water to boil and salt it. Add the cabbage leaves to the boiling water a few at a time and cook for 30 seconds to one minute, or until they’re just soft enough to bend without snapping. Remove the leaves from the water and transfer to a strainer. When all are cooked, rinse with cold water. Gently squeeze the leaves to remove most of the excess water and gently pat dry with kitchen towel.
Add 2 T. of olive oil in a large saute pan oven over medium-high heat, add half the chopped onion, carrot, and parsnip, and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Season with 1/2 tsp. Herbamare.
Add the lamb and rice to a large mixing bowl uncooked. Then take the sauteed onion, carrot, and parsnip mix and add to the bowl. Mix with clean hands or large spoon until combined (do not overwork).
Wipe the pan, add 2 tablespoons olive oil and turn the heat to medium-high. When the oil is hot, add the other half of the onion and all of the garlic and cook until softened, stir often to prevent garlic from burning (approx. 2 minutes). Add the crushed tomatoes, smoked paprika, and 1 tsp. salt (or Herbamare seasoning).
Simmer over medium-low heat while you prepare the rolls.
Trim the cabbage leaves, simply cut the a line at the stem end of each leaf. Lay a leaf on a work surface with the wide edge facing you. Put a scoop of the meat/rice/vegetable mixture in the middle of the leaf, fold in the two sides of the leaf and roll it up like a burrito. Repeat with the remaining leaves and filling.
Add the cabbage rolls, seam side down, to the pot of simmering sauce. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring the sauce occasionally and adding a tablespoon or two of water if the sauce becomes too thick, until the meat and rice are both fully cooked (cut into a roll to check; the rice should be tender and the meat no longer pink).
Cook time is approx. 35 minutes. Cut through a cabbage roll to test for doneness, adding lid and cooking for additional 5 minutes if needed.