Daring Cooks Challenge: Cabbage Rolls

Tonight's dinner was an interesting one for me. Never in my wildest dreams would I have made something that involved stuffing cabbage leaves, but I've joined an Internet cooking club - I'll pause now and wait for you stop laughing - and each month entails a new challenge. This was the first one I participated in and although I wasn't a huge fan of this dish, it was fun to make something new and different. Too bad Lobster had to come along for the ride. Anyway, I'm super excited about the cooking challenges since it will really "challenge" me to make something I would have never tried in the past - hence these cabbage rolls.

If you've never had cabbage rolls in the past, it's basically a meatloaf rolled inside of a cabbage leaf braised in a tomato sauce. While the taste was okay, it reminded me of something I imagine lobster and I eating in a nursing home fifty years from now. Doesn't that make you want it!! The texture wasn't really doin' it for me and I couldn't get over the boiled mush taste. Although it was edible, I don't anticipate making it again. Well, at least it was healthy. I'm sure my arteries are thanking me today since I pretty much had cake and ice cream for dinner last night. I thought I'd give my thighs the night off tonight :D

Daring Cooks Challenge:
Lori of Lori’s Lipsmacking Goodness, has challenged The Daring Cooks to stuff grape leaves. Lori chose a recipe from Aromas of Aleppo and a recipe from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food. Since we were given the option to stuff anything we wanted, I decided to stuff cabbage leaves.

Cabbage Rolls

Adapted from Emeril

Makes 6 rolls


  • 1 head cabbage, cored and scalded in hot water until soft and easy to separate
  • 1 teaspoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped yellow onions
  • 1 teaspoons chopped garlic
  • 1/2 pound ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup cooked white rice
  • 1 teaspoons + 1/8 tsp Essence, recipe follows
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 egg

Essence (Emeril's Creole Seasoning):

  • 1 1/4 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.

Yield: about 1/3 cup

Recipe from "New New Orleans Cooking", by Emeril Lagasse and Jessie Tirsch. Published by William and Morrow, 1993.

Tomato Sauce

1-15 oz can of diced tomatoes, pureed

1 tablespoon of brown sugar

S&P to taste


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Using a paring knife, remove center core of cabbage. In a large nonreactive stockpot, bring 2 quarts water to a boil. Add cabbage and cook 2 to 3 minutes or until outer leaves are bright green and tender. Lift cabbage from water, and remove outer leaves. Return cabbage to boiling water, and repeat brief cooking and removal of leaves until all leaves are cooked. Trim thick center vein from bottom of each leaf. Reserve two large outer leaves to line bottom of pan.

Mix all ingredients for tomato sauce together and set aside.

To make the stuffing, in a medium skillet melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until very wilted and starting to caramelize, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

Lay the cabbage leaves, rib side down, on a flat work surface. In a large bowl, combine the meat, rice, Essence, salt, pepper, egg, and cooked onions. Mix well with a heavy wooden spoon or your hands. Season to taste with more S&P after making a tester patty.

One at a time, spoon the filling into the center of the cabbage leaves, about 1/4 cup in each, depending upon the size of the leaves. Fold sides of cabbage over filling, and, starting with the stem end, roll the cabbage up.

Place reserved two large cabbage leaves on bottom of a heavy pot. Place cabbage rolls in one layer on top of cabbage leaves. Make sure they are tight and snug in one layer. Pour the tomato sauce over the rolls and make sure sauce is covering the top of rolls, cover tightly with aluminum foil, and bake until the meat is cooked through and the rolls are tender about one hour and fifteen minutes. Remove from the oven and serve the rolls with the sauce spooned over the top.