When I was younger my mom use to make this dish called Stuffed Cabbage. Basically it was a meatball wrapped in cabbage leaves cooked in a tomato soup. She would serve it over rice and I loved it. It’s one of those nostalgic dishes that take you back to a specific time and place. Brings back all the memories and gives you all the feels. I remember being so excited to eat it and it being super hot that burning your mouth was a given.
Over the years, I make it for my family and everyone except RJ loves it. Remember I told you guys how he’s my chicken and chocolate kid. Yup my picky eater. The one thing about the way my mom made it was the time it took to prep. Ideally you took a regular head of cabbage, cut off the core, pull each leaf apart then par boil them in a pot of water. While the cabbage is boiling, you prep the meatballs. Once the cabbage is soft and pliable you wrap the meatball in the cabbage. Too much effort and the frustrating part was as you got to the center of the cabbage, the leaves got smaller which makes it nearly impossible to get around a meatball.
There are also variations for the meatball ingredients. My mom only used diced carrots and onion but traditionally rice is also added to the meatball filling. If making it the traditional way, you can simmer it on the stove top for about 45 min to an hour OR bake in the oven at 350 degrees covered for an hour. Another very time consuming thing.
Now you all know, I don’t have the time nor the want to be slaving in the kitchen for an hour plus for a meal. I’ve got other things I prefer to do like peruse social media, write blog posts or read. So over the years I’ve adapted the recipe a little at a time till it turned into something that doesn’t look anything like the original but tastes EXACTLY like the original. Magic!
In the beginning I substituted regular cabbage for Napa cabbage, also known as Wonbok cabbage. The leaves are longer and easier to work with once par boiled. Even the core leaves has a lot of surface area to add a good size meatball to. I also began cooking the stuffed cabbage rolls in a crockpot on low for 3 hours. Still a lot of time to prep and cook. I had to really be in the mood or craving this for me to slightly slave over this dish.
Eventually, as mentioned, I totally changed the entire process as my lazy self often does. I have lovingly called this dish “Unstuffed Cabbage” because who has time for stuffing?! I’m sharing the printable version below. I hope you enjoy it and the ease it takes to make it without slaving away in the kitchen.
My extremely easy, delicious and hearty version of stuffed cabbage without the prep or stuffing process.
- 1 head Napa Cabbage cut into 1/2" strips
- 1 1 1.5 lbs Ground Beef
- 2 Large Carrots finely diced
- 1/2 Onion finely diced
- 1 Large/family size can Condensed Tomato Soup + 1 can of water
- 2 T Olive Oil
- Salt & pepper to taste
- In a large pot, add olive oil & heat for 2 min
- Add carrots and onions and sauté till onions become translucent
- Then add the ground beef and cook till brown
- Once the ground beef is brown add the condensed tomato soup and 1 can of water
- Let simmer for 15-20 minutes till the cabbage is soft
- Season with salt and pepper
- Serve over rice