Cabbage Rolls with Bulgur Wheat and Italian Sausage
I had my menu all planned for this week, but I caught a cold and the fridge is full of leftovers from two Christmas events from this past weekend, plus there’s an enormous cabbage that’s taking up the space that this week’s box is going to need, like right now. So, I pushed today’s meal to tomorrow, and used up as much of the cabbage as I could.
This is a take on cabbage rolls. I definitely love the more traditional cabbage rolls with rice and ground beef, smothered in tomato sauce. But, I had sausage and bulgur wheat on hand, so that’s what I used.
I had an Italian herb blend that I made up during the summer. It’s amazing what a little bit of work ahead of time can do to save time in the now. I use those herbs a lot. So much so that they’re almost ready to be replenished. I also used the last of the tomato sauce from this summer. It served us well.
After the onion, sausage, tomato, and herbs hang out in the skillet for a while, they’re ready to be wrapped in cabbage. To make the cabbage leaves easier to peel off, I cut out the core.
Some like to par-cook (partially cook) the cabbage so they’re softer and easier to work with. I didn’t. I set them in hot water for a minute or so, which softened them a bit, but let them still stay kinda crisp. Tim and I liked the end result. I asked him if he wished they were softer and he did not. If you prefer them softer, just boil them for a minute or more (depending on how soft you’d like them to be) before filling them.
Or, if you want a super quick meal, serve these in the raw cabbage like you would lettuce wraps. Mmmm lettuce wraps…
That tomato sauce that I mentioned, perfect with cabbage and sausage. I wish I had a crusty piece of bread to soak up all that was left in the pan.
Other variations that might be good: Ground chicken or turkey with grated carrots and chopped tomatoes. Ground beef and cooked spaghetti squash with tomatoes. Or, for a vegan version, substitute the ground meat for tempeh.
I used a regular green cabbage, but you could try napa cabbage, swiss chard, or collard greens too.
We have leftovers and not much room in the fridge. I may chop it all up, add some stock, and make it into soup for dinner tomorrow night!
- 2 C cold or room temperature water
- 1 C uncooked coarse bulgur wheat
- 2 T olive oil, divided
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4 Italian sausage links (the fully cooked kind), removed from their casings
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- 1 T dried Italian herbs (basil, thyme, oregano, parsley, and rosemary)
- to taste salt
- to taste pepper
- 6-8 large green cabbage leaves (or napa cabbage, swiss chard, or collard greens)
- 2 1/2 - 3 C tomato sauce (see post for link to recipe)
- Bring the water and bulgur to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 7-8 minutes, or until to desired tenderness.
- While bulgur cooks, heat a skillet, add 1 T olive oil. When oil is hot add onion and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add sausage through pepper and cook for 5 minutes more (or if using not fully cooked sausage, cook until sausage is done). Add bulgur and stir to combine and remove from heat. Taste and adjust seasoning if desired.
- Pre-heat the oven to 350F. Grease a 9x13 oven-proof dish with remaining oil.
- Submerge cabbage leaves in hot water for a minute or two (or par-boil until they reach desired tenderness). Remove from water and set on the countertop.
- Divide filling between leaves. Roll up, tucking ends in if possible. Secure ends with a toothpick and place seam side down. Pour tomato sauce over rolls. Bake for 20-30 minutes.