More like deconstructed cabbage rolls, but I am so over the deconstructed anything trend. So I’m continuing it but calling it something else, which makes perfect sense.
True life, I just typed “roll bolls.” Because clearly that is a word.
But! Since we just-ish got back from NYC, I’ve had Jewish deli food on the mind. I think the first time I actually had cabbage rolls was maybe 7 or 8 years ago in NYC right after I landed. I probably didn’t know what I was ordering, but they were so good. I love a slightly sweet + tangy tomato sauce, and rice + beef is such a great texture. I wanted this to be slightly simpler and not involve the boiling + rolling of the cabbage, mainly because it seemed easier to just chop a ton of stuff up and stew it for a few minutes. The beef mixture is made with leftover rice so it cooks really fast, and the whole thing tastes ridiculously good and comforting while being easy to throw together and healthy all at the same time.
Plus: dill. (skip it if you hate it, no prob)
The map here is that we start the cabbage tomato sauce, and it stews gently while we make the beef + rice mixture. When the cabbage is soft we serve!
For the tomato sauce, I use stewed tomatoes because they’re a little bit sweeter than regular canned tomatoes. The sauce starts with sliced onion and chopped cabbage. Then we have crushed red pepper, garlic, beef broth, and vinegar.
Start with the cabbage and onion in a skillet over medium-high heat with some olive oil.
Stir the veggies together for about 5 minutes to soften them just a bit, then add the crushed red pepper, the garlic, and a sprinkle of salt.
Stir the garlic into the mixture for just a minute, then add the beef broth, vinegar, and tomatoes. If the tomatoes are whole or in large pieces, break them up with a spoon just a little bit. Now, reduce the heat to medium-low and let the tomato mixture bubble and cook down so that the cabbage is very soft and the sauce thickens slightly. Stir the sauce every 5 minutes or so for about 20 minutes.
While the cabbage is cooking, work on the rice/beef mixture. Leftover rice, ground beef, allspice, dill and pine nuts. That’s it! The allspice is great with the beef and the dill brightens the entire thing up even though it’s dried. You can use fresh dill, but dried works well here too.
Start with the beef in another skillet. Medium-high heat, cook it for 5-7 minutes, crumbling it as you go, until the beef is cooked through and brown on the edges.
When the beef is cooked, add the rice, pine nuts, dill, allspice, and some salt. Be generous with the salt; the rice should be really flavorful.
Stir the rice mixture together, tasting and seasoning more with salt as you go. Turn the heat off until you’re ready to serve.
So now we have the rice mixture and cabbage sauce that has cooked down and is sweet and tangy. Taste it and add more salt if you’d like.
Serve this in shallow bowls or plates, a few spoonfuls of sauce topped with some of the rice and beef.
YUM. I can’t tell you how delicious this is, and what I love about it is that the ingredients individually are simple, not expensive, and you might already have them lying around. Together, though, whoa.
Mix the rice and beef into the sauce as you go, and dig in. Happy Monday!
- 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
- 1/2 small cabbage, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, plus more if desired
- salt, as needed
- 15 ounces canned stewed tomatoes
- 1 cup beef broth
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 1/2 pound ground beef
- 3 cups cooked rice
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 1 tablespoon dried dill
- salt, as needed
For the cabbage sauce, add the onion and cabbage with a drizzle of olive oil to a skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the vegetables, stirring, for about 5 minutes, then add the garlic, crushed red pepper, and a sprinkle of salt. Stir the garlic into the cabbage for 1 minutes, then add the canned tomatoes, beef broth, and vinegar. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer the sauce, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes or until the cabbage is very soft. Taste the sauce and add salt to your preference, or more crushed red pepper for spice.
For the rice, add the beef to a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the beef for 5-7 minutes, breaking it up with a spoon as you go, until the beef is cooked through, crumbly, and brown. Add the rice, allspice, dill, and pine nuts to the skillet. Stir the mixture together and add pinches of salt until the dish is very flavorful.
Serve the cabbage sauce in shallow bowls topped with a spoonful of the rice mixture. Enjoy!
Dill may be omitted or substituted for parsley if you don't like the flavor.
If you don't use canned tomatoes, add a teaspoon or more of sugar to the tomato sauce. The flavor should be tangy, sweet, and slightly spicy.