In last week’s meal plan I mentioned that I wanted to try cabbage rolls. Grain-free and sugar-free of course, to make them paleo and Whole30 compliant. Honestly though, I don’t know what I was thinking, planning this for a weekday meal. While they turned out great, this is not the sort of thing you just whip up for dinner. I had no idea these would be so labour-intensive. Luckily they were delicious, but these will be strictly weekend only from now on.
The first step is to get the cabbage leaves off the cabbage without ripping them. I boiled the entire cabbage in a large pot for a few minutes and used tongs to carefully peel of the leaves one by one. If you plan in advance, you can also freeze then defrost the head of cabbage. When it’s defrosted the leaves should peel off easily. Once the leaves are off, use a paring knife to slice off the tough rib that runs down the middle of the outside of the leaf.
Next I started on the filling. I pulsed some cauliflower in my food processor until it was the size and texture of rice or cous cous. I sauteed some onion, garlic, and cauliflower, then transferred it to my big mixing bowl to cool.
While I was waiting for the mix to cool I made the sauce. I sauteed some more onion and garlic in coconut oil, then mixed in a tin of crushed tomatoes, apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper, and the secret ingredient: coconut milk. Once the sauce was ready, I set it aside to finish up the filling.
Once the onion and cauliflower mix was cool, I added the ground beef, eggs, and seasonings and mixed it up with my hands.
Then I rolled the filling into each cabbage leaf, rib side down, like a burrito. After boiling, the leaves were soft and pliable and easy to roll. Fold the sides in about halfway down the leaf, then finish rolling. I trimmed a little bit of the edges and the end of the leaf to clean it up.
I used as much of the cabbage as I could so I didn’t end up with perfectly even rolls, but that’s okay. The inner, smaller white leaves are the most tender, and they made baby cabbage rolls perfect for the kids.
I spooned a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of my baking dish and arranged the rolls. Then I poured the rest of the sauce on top and baked at 350 for about two hours. When I took the cabbage rolls out, the sauce had separated a bit, but a quick stir made a nice chunky tomato sauce that paired perfectly with these grain-free cabbage rolls.
Paleo Cabbage Rolls
- 1 head cabbage
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 onion minced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 1/2 cups grated or riced cauliflower
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1/2 onion minced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tin 28oz. crushed tomatoes
- 1/4 cup coconut milk
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare Cabbage Leaves
- Boil whole cabbage in large pot for 2 minutes. Using tongs, peel individual leaves being careful not to tear them. Set leaves aside to dry.
- In a large skillet, heat coconut oil over medium heat. Once hot, sautee onion and minced garlic until onion is soft and just starting to colour.
- Add riced cauliflower and stir fry for 4-5 minutes and cauliflower is soft.
- Transfer contents of skillet into a large mixing bowl and allow to cool for a few minutes.
- Add ground beef, eggs, and spices and mix well with clean hands.
- Add more coconut oil to skillet and sautee onion and minced garlic again. Once soft, add crushed tomatoes, coconut milk, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Mix thoroughly.
- Spoon a thin layer of sauce to the bottom of a large baking dish.
Assemble the Cabbage Rolls
- Pat dry any remaining moisture on cabbage leaves. Lay each leaf, rib side down, and spoon about a quarter to a third of a cup of filling into the leaf. Form a cylinder at the bottom edge of the leaf and roll the meat into the leaf, like a burrito. Fold in edges half way down the length of the leaf and continue rolling.
- Lay each roll, seam side down, in the baking dish.
- Pour remaining sauce over cabbage rolls and cook in oven for about two hours.