BeefMalia Howe

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

BeefMalia Howe
Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

Well, here I am again about to ramble about some hideous looking hamburger dish that tastes outstanding. When I was a young bride, I attempted to make some cabbage rolls. You know the kind, right? Hamburger and rice stuffed cabbage with some delicious tangy yet sweet tomato sauce. Well, I am still scarred from that attempt. It was probably my hugest kitchen fail ever. The Barefoot Contessa led me astray in her technique for perfectly blanching and rolling the cabbage leaves, and I was left crying over my broken rolls with still crunchy rice inside. That was at least 10 years ago and I still remember it vividly (this is kind of pathetic, no?). You are correct in assuming I've never attempted the dish again. Rightfully so, perhaps. The game changed when my mom told me about this little ditty she made last week that both she and my dad loved. The concept was brilliant--all the components of a cabbage roll, yet unstuffed in a big old mess in a pot. Sold. The time was right to try this flavor combo again, and truly, it was beyond delicious. I messed with the sauce ingredients to give it the flavor balance I prefer in my cabbage rolls, and I think it's perfect. I ate it for lunch today again, and I daresay it is even better leftover. I served it next to some brown rice because cabbage rolls need rice in my opinion, but feel free to just forgo that altogether. Or serve it with mashed potatoes. Or buttered egg noodles. I don't care what you do with it, just for the love of everything that is holy make this meal.

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls
-adapted from

-2 lbs ground beef
-1 large onion, chopped
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes
-1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
-1/2 cup water
-1/4 t. dried thyme
-1 1/2 T. brown sugar
-1 T red wine vinegar
-1 small head of cabbage, chopped
-1 t. salt
-1 t. pepper

Brown beef and onion, drain any grease that may be present. Add remaining ingredients, bring to boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until cabbage is tender. That is it, folks. Couldn't be simpler.