Stuffed cabbage is not typically a dish you hear about in Italian cuisine… Polish, German, Russian yes. No I am not the first to put an Italian twist on it, the great Lidia has her own version as well! Cabbage is a great vessel because it is super pliable when boiled, they really make for a healthy rolling vessel. When it came to the filling I thought of an Italian meat lasagna… so I went with ground chicken, ricotta, grated pecorino and lots of fresh basil! The filling is wrapped up in tender cabbage then baked in sauce and topped with shredded mozzarella. I served mine with some sautéed zucchini and squash… a simple salad would work great as well!
1 lb lean ground chicken
1 cup part skim ricotta
1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
a big handful of chopped basil
2 Tbsp garlic powder
shredded part skim mozzarella
3-4 cups basic tomato sauce *see below*
*For a basic sauce… Sauté a 1/2 a diced onion, several cloves of crushed garlic cloves and a Tbsp or 2 of dried oregano in a few gulps of olive oil. Stir in 3 cans of tomato puree, Season with salt, pepper and lots of fresh basil. Simmer away for 2-3 hours. *
Boil the head of cabbage in a large pot for approx 12 minutes. Remove from the water and allow to cool so you can handle it. Once cooled carefully remove 10-12 leaves keeping them intact.
In a bowl mix together the chicken, ricotta, pecorino, egg, basil, bread crumbs and garlic powder.
Place one of the cabbage leaves on a cutting board or plate with the thicker end nearest you. Place a palm full of the filling on the end. Fold the end nearest you over top the filling then fold in the two sides and continue to roll until closed. Continue until all the filling is used.
In a baking dish, fill the bottom with sauce approx 1/2 inch- 1 inch up and place the stuffed cabbage rolls on top. Pour a little more sauce over top the cabbage and finish with some shredded mozzarella. Bake at 375 degrees for approx 30 minutes.
*this is my original recipe*