Cabbage Rolls Casserole is one of the best casserole dishes I’ve tried so far. I’m sure you love cabbage rolls. Who doesn’t? This casserole takes the amazingly flavorful rolls to the next level and there you have a very comforting dinner recipe.
I made a twist on mom’s perfect stuffed cabbage rolls recipe and turned it into a casserole, which I think is a perfect match for the season. Cabbage leaves are stuffed with a spicy beef and rice mixture, cooked in a pot and then baked in oven with a tomato sauce and shredded mozzarella on the top to make the final tempting touch.
I love those casseroles that freeze well, they make an easy yet crowd pleaser dinners especially during busy weeknights. Everyone is surprised when they see a comforting dish on their plate in almost no time. And this cabbage rolls casserole is one of those dishes that will help you with weeknight dinners.
Although most people feel lazy to make classic stuffed cabbage rolls as it requires time and effort, nobody would refuse a pan of premade cabbage rolls in their freezer. Ok, it takes time but it takes almost no time when you put some in the freezer and take it from there next time. So it turns out to be an easy and quick family dinner. If you never have that feeling to make the rolls though, check out my lazy Unstuffed Cabbage Casserole, which is our readers’ all time favorite recipe.
Baking the already cooked cabbage rolls in oven helps the flavors stand out more. Also, the filling inside the rolls is never mushy this way. Rolls have a nice brownish color on the top, which also adds richness to the flavor.
The sauce I use in this cabbage rolls casserole recipe is a simple casserole sauce that you can use for other casserole dishes too. It is a mixture of tomato paste, garlic, vinegar, salt, olive oil and water. Instead of tomato paste, you can use pureed tomato or a mixture of both, which I think will give a great richness to the dish. I used tomato paste just because it was what I had on hand.
In Turkey, it’s not unusual to give cabbage rolls a second cook in oven and it’s mostly served with yogurt just like in other Middle East countries. What I made different in this recipe is to add shredded mozzarella on the top. There isn’t too much liquid in this cabbage rolls casserole, so the cheese directly combines with the rolls very well.
30 minPrep Time
1 hr, 10 Cook Time
1 hr, 40 Total Time
- 1 head cabbage
- 1 and 1/2 cups rice
- 1 cup ground beef
- 2 large onions, finely chopped
- 2 tomatoes, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon dried mint
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 cup hot water, for cooking the rolls
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 and 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup hot water
- 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella for topping
- Remove the leaves of the cabbage.
- Bring a pot filled with water to boil. Add in salt and put the cabbage leaves into the pot. Cook them for 3-4 minutes or until they are slightly tender. Drain and transfer the leaves into a large bowl with cold water to stop cooking.
- Mix all the ingredients for the filling until combined well.
- Remove the very thick stems of the cabbage leaves using a knife so that you can roll them up easily.
- Put some filling on the leaves and roll them up. If the leaves are too long, just cut them into two or three after they are stuffed and rolled up.
- Place a few large cabbage leaves at the bottom of a pot and place the rolls on them. If there is any juice left from the filling, just pour it over them. Cook them for about 10 minutes and then pour 1 cup of hot water, cover the pot and cook for about 40 minutes or until tender.
- Meanwhile you can prepare the casserole sauce. Dissolve tomato paste in hot water and add in olive oil, minced garlic, salt and vinegar.
- Preheat oven to 200C.
- Transfer the rolls into a baking pan. Don’t leave the water in the pot, pour it into the pan too. If you cook the rolls in an iron cast pan, no need for that transfer. You can just bake it in the same pan.
- Pour the tomato sauce over the cabbage rolls and bake for about 20 minutes, until the rolls get brownish.
- Remove it from oven, top with shredded mozzarella and bake for another 10 minutes or until the cheese melts.
- Serve when it’s still hot.