Growing up, cabbage was one of those food items I ALWAYS turned my nose up at. It smells, I found the the flavor to be very bland, and the texture was like eating tough, boiled lettuce.
I am discovering that there are other ways to prepare cabbage than just boiling the heck out of it. Like sausage and spinach stuffed cabbage leaves, for example. Never, ever, in all my years did I think I would see the day when I substituted pasta shells for cabbage leaves. I got the inspiration when I found this post on Pinterest. Before I even knew what the picture was, I thought, “Oh, that looks good!” and clicked on it. When I discovered it was stuffed cabbage leaves, I thought, “Really? That looks awfully tasty to be stuffed cabbage leaves.”
That’s when I scolded myself for being so closed minded.
I actually combined that recipe with another recipe I found for sausage stuffed shells. And can I just say, the combination was SO GOOD! Very much like lasagna, but super healthy. When I sat down to eat, The Husband said he just wanted a bite of mine, but then ended up fixing himself a plate. I had planned to make two meals out of this, but we didn’t leave enough in the pan for a second go-round.
This recipe is perfect for people counting carbs. It can also be made ahead of time and frozen for later in the week when you need a ready-made dinner.
- 8-10 cabbage leaves
- 1 pound Italian sausage, casing removed
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
- 1 cup frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
- ½ cup ricotta cheese
- ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
- ½ cup marinara sauce, divided
- ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Bring a large pot salted water to a boil over high heat. Once the water comes to a boil, drop cabbage leaves into the pot. Reduce heat to medium and boil leaves for about 7 minutes or until cabbage leaves feel slightly tender. Remove leaves from the pot and rinse with cold water.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the Italian sausage and cook for 5-6 minutes, breaking sausage up into bite-sized chunks, until sausage is browned.
- Add garlic and cook 30 seconds.
- Add tomatoes with juice and spinach and cook 1 minute. Remove pan from heat and stir in ricotta and ¼ cup of the Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
- Spread half of the marinara sauce on the bottom of an 8 x 8 square baking dish.
- Lay each cabbage leaf flat on the counter. Place about three heaping tablespoons of sausage filling in the center of the leaf. Fold the two long sides of the leaf towards the center. Then slowly begin rolling from the stem end. Place roll seam side down in the pan. Repeat with remaining leaves.
- Spread the remaining marinara sauce over the cabbage rolls. Sprinkle with mozzarella and remaining Parmesan.*
- Cover the pan with foil. Bake for 25 minutes, the remove the foil and bake for another 25 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.