Cabbage Casserole

   When Don used to travel for work and I was at home at the house in the woods with only the cats for company, cooking everyday for myself was not a priority. There were too many other projects going on around the place. This was my home-crafted bookcase period (eventually seven of them), learning to crochet afghans and throw rugs, and attempting to landscape in caliche soil with alkaline well water compounded by the persistent Central Texas wildlife and blistering heat.
   Cooking this hearty casserole that lasted several days freed up more time for those other endeavors. This was (and still is) one of my favorite combinations. It is easy to adjust the seasonings to your own preferences or seasonal vegetables. This can be cooked in a crockpot, in the oven, or on the stovetop and for me that usually depends on the weather. If it is winter the oven or stovetop adds more warmth to the house. In summer the crockpot helps to avoid that.
   This week’s batch omitted the rice (the post-holiday low-carb version) and with no rice to be cooked the casserole only needs reheating to serve.

Cabbage Casserole

Cabbage Casserole

Cabbage Layer –
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 1/2 pounds cabbage, thinly sliced (at least 6 cups)
(Sometimes I add grated carrots or other veggies languishing in the fridge)
Sea salt and pepper
1 teaspoon thyme (from a jar)

Meat Layer –
1 pound extra lean ground meat – we used turkey
Sea salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Sauce –
1 can diced tomatoes
3 ounce can tomato paste
1 teaspoon basil
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 packet or cube of instant bouillon (whatever flavor you prefer)
8 ounces water (if you use rice)

Rice (optional) –
1/2 cup converted rice, dry

Cabbage Prep:
Place all ingredients in a very large skillet or pot and sauté until the cabbage is bright green and onions are transparent.
Meat Layer Prep:
Cook all ingredients until all traces of pink are gone and set aside. Grocery stores now carry pre-seasoned ground meat and sometimes I just cook up a package of the lean ground turkey with Italian seasoning (ever lazier – that’s me).
Sauce Prep:
Puree the tomatoes in a blender. Add the other ingredients and blend.

Assembly and cooking:
Layer these ingredients into a casserole starting with 1/3 of the cabbage, followed by 1/2 of the meat, 1/2 of the rice, cabbage, meat, rice, and finishing with the cabbage. Pour the sauce over all and work it into the casserole layers with a spoon. Bake it at 350*F for 45 – 60 minutes – checking to be sure the rice is done.

This batch provided enough for two hearty dinners for both Don and me – we don’t call it leftovers we call it planning ahead!



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