Growing up we had Italian sausage, meatballs and tomato sauce all the time, but never ever did we add cabbage to the mix. So for me, this recipe lands in the category of ‘I can’t believe I liked this!”
I don’t know about you but cabbage isn’t a popular ingredient in my family. Even during St. Patty’s my mom cooks the cabbage in a separate pot because she’s afraid it will smell up all the good stuff. It’s no wonder none of us thought we liked it!
We decided to be adventurous and try Italian Style Cabbage Rolls. And it turns out that Cliff, my Dad and I all loved them. If my Dad really likes something you know you’ve found a winner because he’s sure to tell you it’s just okay if it’s not great, no sugar coating anything for him.
And for anybody that might be a little afraid of the cabbage here, don’t be. They cook for so long they become so soft you don’t even realize they’re there AND they absorb all the good flavors.
Italian Style Cabbage Rolls
- 1 large savoy cabbage
- 3 cup small bread scraps, crusts removed
- 2/3 cup whole milk
- 4 Italian sausages, casings removed
- 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated
- salt and pepper, to taste
- pinch red pepper flakes
- pinch dry Italian seasoning
- 1 28 oz can peeled plum tomatoes
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Discard any broken outer cabbage leaves. Work carefully to peel 12 nice, large leaves.
- Working with a few at a time, blanch the leaves for about 30 seconds to 1 minute, until wilted. Spread out on towels so that they dry and cool.
- To make the filling, place bread scraps in a large bowl and pour milk on top. Let sit for a few minutes, then mash gently until a paste forms. Mix with sausage meat, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, Parmesan and a pinch of salt and black pepper.
- Lay your first cabbage leaf on the counter. Form some of the filling into a golf ball-sized ball. Wrap cabbage leaf around it and secure it at the top with a toothpick. Repeat with remaining leaves and filling.
- In a large heavy saute pan with a lid, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the tomatoes, breaking up the large chunks with a wooden spoon. Bring the sauce to a gentle boil. Season with salt, if needed. Add cabbage rolls, arranging them in a single layer in the pan. Cover the pan and gently simmer for 25 minutes. Remove the toothpicks and turn the rolls over, cooking for another 25 minutes. Remove the lid and simmer for another 10 minutes to cook off some of the wetness.