All the rich and hearty flavor of stuffed cabbage without all the work! This unstuffed cabbage recipe transforms the classic into a one pot wonder.
Welcome to unstuffed cabbage—the amazing flavors of stuffed cabbage, but without all the work! We all love a warm, hearty, comforting stuffed cabbage. But not the amount of time that goes into it. Boiling the cabbage, trimming the leaves, making the filling, stuffing, rolling, layering, simmering. Wow that’s a lot of steps! And how long before we get to my favorite step of eating?! Unstuffed cabbage has all the delicious richness and irresistible flavor, but transformed into a one-pot meal. Now you can serve stuffed cabbage any day of the week. But it’s so delicious that you also can serve it for special occasions with rave reviews.
Coming from an Eastern-European Jewish household, stuffed cabbage is a staple. And even more so, a staple for the holidays. Every family has their own recipe variation, but they all have the same things in common—a savory meat and rice filling rolled inside tender cabbage leaves and simmered in a sweet and tangy tomato sauce. (In my house it’s called a sweet and sour sauce, but that name kinda makes me think of Chinese food.) I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.
I’m sure my grandma (and all Jewish grandmas) have spent many hours standing at the kitchen counter filling and rolling hundreds of stuffed cabbages. But seeing as I don’t have a lot of patience (oops) and like to be quick in the kitchen (so I have more time to try more recipes, of course!), I created this unstuffed cabbage recipe that can be made in one pot. Yup, a one pot wonder. Or a deconstructed stuffed cabbage if you want to sound all fancy and stuff.
Regardless of what you call it, the bottom line is this tastes DELICIOUS. The richness of the beef mixed with soft and tender cabbage and a perfectly balanced, rich yet delicate tomato sauce is just out of this world. Serve over rice, and you have a completely irresistible weeknight dinner or a guest-worthy dish. And most importantly for me, a dish that tastes just like home. Enjoy!
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small green cabbage
- 1 large onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 ½ pounds ground beef
- 2 cans (14.5 ounces each) petite diced tomatoes
- 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
- 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp salt
- ¾ tsp pepper
- ½ lemon, juiced
- 2 Tablespoons sugar
- Flat-leaf parsley (optional)
- To prepare the green cabbage, remove the first layer of outer leaves and cut cabbage in half from top to bottom. Cut out tough inner core from each half and discard. Cut each cabbage half into thin slices.
- Dice onion and mince garlic.
- In a large pan with sides, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add diced onion and cook until soft and slightly golden, about 7 minutes.
- Clear a small hole in the center of the pan and add the minced garlic. Cook garlic in the center until fragrant, stirring constantly to avoid burning (about 30-60 seconds).
- Add the ground beef and cook until no longer pink, breaking apart the meat into small pieces as you stir.
- Remove any fat from the meat mixture using a large spoon.
- Add the sliced cabbage, tomatoes, tomato sauce, vinegar, salt, and pepper, to the mixture. Cover and simmer for 45-60 minutes, stirring a couple times initially to incorporate the cabbage as it cooks down. Leave the lid cracked open to allow the sauce to thicken nicely.
- Add the juice of ½ lemon and 2 Tbsp sugar (or more or less to taste). Cook for another 5 minutes to allow the flavors to combine. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
- Garnish with roughly chopped flat leaf parsley (optional) and serve piping hot over rice. Enjoy!
Recipe adapted from Southern Food’s Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls
Another weeknight dinner idea:
Crunchy Cornflakes Chicken– A quick and impressive oven-baked chicken recipe with a crispy cornflakes coating.