I’m on Day 9 of the Whole30, and it’s been surprisingly easy (plus cost-effective – I’m saving so much money that I would have spent on pizza and wine). The hardest part for me has been, not completely unexpectedly, cooking more than I typically do. If you’re not familiar with the Whole30 reset, there’s tons of great information on the website. Without going into too much boring detail, it’s basically paleo’s stricter older brother: no alcohol, dairy, grains, soy, legumes, corn, sweeteners other than fruit juice (yes, this includes honey), and some other things that I’m forgetting because I never ate them to begin with. It’s a great way to get out of the habit of eating processed crap all of the time, and it’s been OK so far.
As I said, I’m no chef. I’m barely a cook. In the kitchen of life, I would be better doing salad prep. But making sure not to ingest any bad foods means that you need to have the good foods prepared and waiting for your hangry moments, so recipes were necessary. Last Sunday night, I made a decent batch of cabbage rolls that were not disgusting, and have allowed me to stay on target for the past week. The rest of the time I’m being boring and eating things like eggs, sausages, sauteed veggies, avocados, sweet potatoes – really, really basic food. Anyway, this recipe is being written for me, so I don’t lose it. It’s not the best recipe for cabbage rolls that has ever existed, but it’s done its job, and I think that with time, I can improve upon it. Please feel free to use this as a base recipe for creating your own edible concoction. Let me know what you do in the comments!
- 1 head of green cabbage
- 1 lb. of ground meat (I used wild boar, since that’s the cheapest thing they had at the food co-op)
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 1-2 jalapeno
- 5-10 Baby Bella mushrooms
- 5-10 baby carrots
- small can of sliced black olives
- 1 14-oz can of fire roasted diced tomatoes (make sure there’s no added sugar on the ingredients list)
- crushed red pepper
- salt & pepper
- Boil the cabbage. I’ve read various instructions on how to do this, and I still didn’t do it quite right. The aim is to boil it for long enough for all of the leaves to get soft, so you can gently pull them back and remove them, one by one. I just boiled it, pulled off all of the leaves that I could pull off, then put it back in the water and did it over again, etc. It took three full boils to get the whole thing apart. I’ve heard that you can cut out the core and boil it, and that’s a lot easier. I only have one giant knife, so I wasn’t really open to the idea of trying that technique without adult supervision. Whatever, it worked fine. Peel off the leaves and set them aside.
- Open the can of diced tomatoes, dump it in the blender, and add a lot of hot sauce, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper. Feel free to experiment. Regular cabbage rolls normally use some sort of flavorful tomato soup-like substance to cover the cabbage rolls while they’re baking or slow-cooking, and a lot of people just use Campbell’s tomato soup. Next time, I’d work on making this mixture a bit thicker, creamier, and more flavorful, but it tasted perfectly fine (and I like my food spicy, so the more peppers, the better).
- Dice up the onion, jalapeno, mushrooms, and carrots, and saute everything in olive oil.
- Dice up the black olives.
- Combine the raw meat with all of the sauteed veggies and diced black olives. I put it all in a big bowl and mixed thoroughly, until the entire mixture was consistent. Add
- Scoop out individual portions of the meat/veggie mixture into individual cabbage leaves. You’re going to just have to eyeball this one. Keep in mind how many cabbage leaves you have to fill, and portion out the mixture accordingly. I would estimate that each roll took about two to three heaping tablespoons of the meat mixture, but this isn’t written in stone.
- Roll up the cabbage leaves. Try tucking the ends in like you would a burrito, just to keep the mixture in there a little better.
- Gently place the rolls in the slow cooker in layers, then top everything with the tomato concoction you put together in the blender.
- Cook in the slow cooker on high for 5 hours.
- Enjoy! This recipe made me 14 cabbage rolls, so 7 days of lunches.