Now that I’ve recapped the blog recipe highlights of 2014, it’s time to kick off 2015 with some healthy and hearty recipes featuring cruciferous vegetables. Cruci-what, you say? Cruciferous is the fancy name for a group of vegetables that we all know and (hopefully) love. Those veggies include cauliflower, kale, broccoli, and the focus of the next destination –cabbage! My theory behind the name “cruciferous” is that these veggies literally crucify all the crap that we indulged in over the holidays and help us wash away the fact that we consumed a boatload of carbs and buttery sugary treats. Talking about myself here. I’m ready to put all that behind me. So, on with the cabbage.
Usually when I think of cabbage, that boring over-dressed simple salad tossed with carrots aka cole slaw comes to mind. But, did you know cabbage can actually serve as a vessel to hold any type of savory ingredient you wish? I’m talking about cabbage rolls, my friends. My husband LOVES cabbage rolls. Whenever I ask him what he wants for dinner, 90% of the time, without hesitation, he picks “cabbage rolls!” Pretty sure he once requested them in the middle of summer on a 90 degree day when grilling burgers, eating the aforementioned overdressed cole slaw, and sipping a cold beer seemed more appropriate. To me, cabbage rolls scream comfort food in the dead of winter on a grey, below zero day. But heck, I can’t blame my husband for wanting these all year round. They’re amazing.
Cabbage rolls are a European dish that typically consist of cabbage stuffed with seasoned ground meat and rice and topped with a tomato-based sauce. My adventurous self (who likes to give everything a Southwest kick) decided to sub in chili powder and cumin for the traditional seasoning, quinoa for the rice, and salsa for the tomato sauce. What I did keep was the pinch of cinnamon in the tomato sauce. It gives the dish such warmth and a unique European flavor. The results were perfection: a hearty ground turkey and quinoa mixture rolled into a cute little cabbage burrito, slathered in a salsa-based sauce, topped with melted cheese.
If you’ve never made cabbage rolls before, let me give you a heads up. There is some prep work involved. To eliminate any confusion, I designed a little step-by-step chart to show you how to prep the cabbage and assemble the rolls.
It’s not difficult. It just takes some time. But guess what? For putting in this extra 15-20 min of work, you will be rewarded with a healthy, boldly flavored, and wonderfully wholesome meal for dinner and fabulous leftovers to be enjoyed for the rest of the week. Warm up from the frigid weather this week with these Southwest Quinoa Cabbage Rolls!
- 1 head of green cabbage
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 pound lean ground beef or ground turkey (I used ground turkey)
- 2 teaspoons salt, divided
- ⅔ cup black beans
- 1 bell pepper, finely chopped
- ⅔ cup corn (I used frozen corn)
- 1 tbs chili powder
- ½ tbs cumin
- ⅔ cup cooked quinoa
- Juice of ½ lime
- 1 cup of your favorite salsa
- 1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
- 1 teaspoon agave nectar or honey
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¾ cup reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese
- ⅓ cup chopped cilantro
- Sour cream (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Prep the cabbage: Follow steps 1-4 shown in the "Cabbage Roll Prep & Assembly" chart above.
- Prep the filling: Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Once heated, add the onions, ground meat, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Brown the meat until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Stir in the black beans, bell pepper, and corn. Sprinkle with cumin and chili powder. Cook for another 3 minutes. Add in cooked quinoa, lime juice, and the other teaspoon of salt. Stir to combine.
- Assemble the cabbage rolls: Lay a cabbage leaf on a flat surface. Scoop ⅓ cup of the meat mixture into the center of the leaf. Bring the bottom half of the leaf up over the meat. Tuck both sides in towards the middle and roll the leaf up. Repeat for all cabbage leaves.
- Prep the dish: Spray a large casserole dish(es) (you might need 2!) with cooking spray. Place each cabbage roll in the dish seam side down.
- Make the sauce: In a medium bowl, combine the salsa and tomato sauce. Add in the agave and cinnamon. Stir to combine. Pour the sauce over the cabbage rolls covering them entirely.
- Cook: Bake the cabbage rolls, covered, for 35-40 minutes. Take the rolls out and sprinkle with cheese. Place the rolls, uncovered, back in the oven for 5 minutes until the cheese is fully melted. Sprinkle cilantro over the rolls. Serve with a dollop of sour cream on top.
Nutrition Information (per serving) from Caloriecount.about.com
Calories: 324 Fat: 8g Carb: 36.5g Fiber: 8.5g Protein: 22.8g Sugar 8.9g Sodium: 1195mg
karen @ joyfuldinners says
I’ve been cooking for a long time and I have never made cabbage rolls! I really like the southwest quinoa filling though, so just might have to try something new. The step by step chart is really well done. Good job! I am realizing that I can always count on you to post something that will intrigue me. Thanks!
Thank you!! I thought the step-by-step chart be helpful for those new to cabbage rolls. You don’t realize what a production it is until you study the recipe!
This was very tasty – a good alternative to a couple of other chili type dishes I make. However my wife didn’t like the cabbage and so the next time I make it I’ll do it as a casserole (i.e., the filling without the cabbage).
Thanks for the comment! I’m sure just the filling in casserole form would be amazing!