Sometimes you just need a super comforting meal that makes you feel like all’s right with the world. Or at least in our tiny part of the world. And maybe all right just during dinner (lol). A plate of Swedish cabbage rolls can’t fix the many woes in the world, but it really does fix a hankering for something tasty and satisfying!
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These tender little packages filled with a mixture of ground beef and rice wrapped in cabbage leaves in a light red sauce is what I’m talking about. It’s pretty much heaven to sit down to and enjoy after a long day.
What’s even better? That this is an easy, slow cooker recipe. Get it ready in the morning and let it bake in the slow cooker all day. Drive to work, head out in the garden, go shopping or do some chores because you’ve got dinner covered.
Variations of Swedish cabbage rolls
Though this recipe is called Swedish Cabbage rolls, they are in no way exclusive to Sweden and may actually be different from what might be considered traditional.
Many cultures make cabbage rolls, consisting of cooked cabbage leaves wrapped around a variety of fillings. With many different names and variations, cabbage rolls are common to the cuisines of Central, Northern, Eastern and Southeastern Europe and much of Western Asia, Northern China, as well as parts of North Africa.
Cabbage leaves are stuffed with various fillings which are then baked, simmered, or steamed in a covered pot and usually eaten warm. Often they are accompanied with a sauce that also varies widely by cuisine.
Cabbage rolls are sometimes served with a sweet and tart lingonberry jam. Tomato-based sauces or plain sour cream are typical in Eastern Europe. In Lebanon, the cabbage is stuffed with rice and minced meat and only rolled to the size of a cigar. It is usually served with a side dish of yogurt and a type of lemon and olive oil vinaigrette seasoned with garlic and dried mint.
Let’s get started making a pan of cabbage rolls!
Preparing the tomato sauce for cabbage rolls
Begin by making the sauce for the cabbage rolls. Combine 2 8-ounce cans of tomato sauce, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and 2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce.
Spread a thin layer of sauce into your slow cooker that has been coated with cooking spray.
Preparing the cabbage leaves
You will want to separate 12 leaves from the head of cabbage. The easiest was to do this is to soften the leaves while on the head of cabbage.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
With a sharp knife, carefully cut out some of the core of the head of cabbage.
Then carefully immerse the head of cabbage into the pot of boiling water. Allow the head of cabbage to remain in the water for a few minutes.
As the leaves begin to go limp, use a wooden spoon or fork to gently separate them.
Remove the leaves and allow to drain. When the leaves are cool enough to handle, using a knife, cut a wedge and remove part of the heavy center rib of each leaf. (See photo below)
Making the Swedish Cabbage Rolls meat filling
Finely chop an onion to measure 1/4 cup.
Chop or thinly slice fresh basil to measure 2 tablespoons. Parsley can be substituted for basil, if you prefer.
In a large bowl, add the egg, 1/4 cup milk, onion, basil (or parsley), 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1-pound lean, raw ground beef, and 1 cup cooked rice. Toss to combine.
Filling the cabbage leaves
After removing part of the heavy center rib, place about 1/4 cup of the mixture in the center of each leaf.
Fold in the sides and roll ends over the meat to make a neat little package. Continue making all 12 cabbage rolls.
Place the finished cabbage rolls in the slow cooker.
Pour the remaining sauce over the cabbage rolls. And, just cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours.
This is what you will have when the cabbage rolls are finished! Sprinkle with additional basil or parsley, to garnish.
Swedish Cabbage Rolls
Makes 6 servings.
- 12 large cabbage leaves
- 1 beaten egg
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
- tablespoons fresh basil or parsley, chopped
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 lb. lean ground beef
- 1 cup cooked rice
- 2 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
- 2 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
Combine the tomato sauce, lemon juice, brown sugar and Worcestershire Sauce. Spread a thin layer of sauce into your slow cooker that has been coated with cooking spray.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
Cut out some of the core of the head of cabbage.
Carefully immerse the head of cabbage into the pot and allow to remain for a few minutes. As the leaves begin to go limp, gently separate them and remove to drain.
With a knife, remove the heavy center rib of each leaf.
In a large bowl, add the egg, milk, onion, basil (or parsley), Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, raw ground beef, and cooked rice. Stir to combine.
Place about 1/4 cup of the mixture in the center of each leaf.
Fold in the sides and roll ends over the meat to make a neat little package.
Place the finished cabbage rolls in a crockpot.
Pour the remaining sauce over cabbage rolls.
Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours.
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