For as long as I can remember, cabbage rolls have been the ultimate comfort food in my family.
Growing up, my mom made them around the holidays and just randomly throughout the year. My brother and I would eat them for every meal we could until they were gone. And, I know that my sister-in-law Beth used to get grossed out that Jason and I (especially Jason) would eat them cold sometimes…
Here’s what they are: cabbage leaves stuffed with beef and white rice, then cooked in tomato juice with sauerkraut and kielbasa. To make them, it’s quite the intense process… it destroys your kitchen and takes hours to make, and TOTALLY worth it.
I always remember them on 9/11 because that’s what I made on that dreadful day back in 2001. Everyone had a different reaction to 9/11, mine was to go home and make comforting food. At that time, I lived in Nashville and about 8 hours from my closest family member. I remember that we had plans to go to Chili’s for dinner (because that is what we did back then,) but we all decided not to go.
For me, I craved comfort. I craved something that reminded me of home. On 9/11, I made a dish that we made at my house pretty exclusively… it’s a unique one and certainly an acquired taste. So, for this 9/11, I’m going to share a deconstructed cabbage roll recipe that I made a few weeks back.
I’d seen a few recipes online where folks had made a cabbage roll casserole and thought I could easily play off this. And, it also gave me the opportunity to use this guy… I bought him at the Le Crueset Outlet a few months. So fun!
Deconstructed Cabbage Rolls
1/2 lb. lean ground turkey
1/2 – 3/4 cup brown rice
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 small can Sauerkraut
1 bag of Angel Hair coleslaw mix
1/2 package turkey kielbasa
1. Over medium heat, saute your diced onions in a pan sprayed with cooking spray. Add salt and pepper.
2. After cooking the onion 2-3 minutes, add rice to the pan and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Stirring so that the rice only browns and does not burn. Remove from heat.
3. Prepare your large pot by spraying it with cooking spray. Pour a small amount of tomato juice in the bottom of the pot (enough to cover the bottom of the pan with a thin layer of juice.) Gather your ingredients and prepare to begin layering.
4. Layer your ingredients in the pot, as follows adding about 1/3 of the ingredients for each layer. Add cabbage, onion/rice mixture, raw ground turkey (broken into small chunks), sauerkraut, and kielbassa.
5. Add tomato juice to cover the layer of ingredients. Your pot should look like this after the last layer has been added. Add extra tomato juice as needed. You want the ingredients to cook in the juice. Be generous in the juice you add.
6. Cook the casserole on the stovetop on low heat for 1.5-2 hours. Your recipe will be done when the turkey meat has cooked completely. Use that as a guide to when your dish is done.
For me, I thought this recipe was SO much easier than the cabbage rolls I usually make. There’s a time and place for both recipes… but I thought this was a nice alternative to the labor-intensive rolls I usually make. I also lighten it up with ground turkey as opposed to beef, and brown rice instead of white. Turkey kielbasa and no added oils also help make this meal a little bit healthier.
Do you have a favorite comfort food? Is there something you like to eat when tragedy strikes?