Do you ever crave lasagna but don't want to eat all of the extra carbs? Well then this Stuffed Cabbage Casserole is the perfect solution for you.
Leafy green cabbage replaces wheat pasta for a light and satisfying meal that's flavorful enough to make you forget all about the carbohydrates.
Although, I should probably clarify that it's not entirely free of carbohydrates so that the Carb Police don't come after me. The lentils and brown rice have a decent amount, but they're the good kind, known as complex carbohydrates, which have been shown to stabilize blood sugar, improve digestion, and boost metabolism. Do not fear the complex carb!
But let's move on from the carbs and talk about the real star of this casserole: green cabbage. Along with kale, broccoli, collards and Brussels sprouts, cabbage is a member of the cruciferous family of vegetables which contain phytochemicals that are linked to lowering the risk of cancer. It also happens to be very affordable and is currently in season, making it a perfect option to serve at the dinner table right now.
To use it in this casserole, we start by blanching it in boiling water for about 5 minutes. From there, we assemble the sauce, which is loaded with vegetables like diced tomatoes, onion, carrots, mushrooms, brown rice and lentils. Then we layer the cabbage in a casserole dish with the sauce in between, top it with just enough cheese and bake in the oven for 30 minutes until the top is golden and bubbly.
Outside of chopping the vegetables, it's fairly easy to make and depending on how many mouths you have to feed, there should be enough leftover for the next day or even the next month, as it also freezes well.
It's a great source of vegetarian protein, packing in 20 grams per serving, and a little fresh parsley is the perfect simple, yet elegant way to finish it off.
- 12 cups thinly sliced green cabbage approximately 2 small cabbages
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion diced
- 2 large carrots diced
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 8 ounces cremini mushrooms sliced
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1 15-ounce ounce can tomato sauce
- 6 ounces tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 2 cups cooked brown lentils*
- 1 cup cooked brown rice**
- 1 ½ cups shredded Italian blend cheese or a combination of mozzarella and parmesan
- Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil. Add the cabbage to the boiling water and cook it for 5 to 7 minutes, until slightly tender. I prefer it to have a little crunch, but you can cook it longer if a softer texture is desired. Drain the cabbage in a colander, rinse with cold water and set aside.
- In the same large pot, warm the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion, carrots, and garlic, and cook for 5 minutes, or until softened. Add the mushrooms, sprinkle with salt & pepper, and continue to cook for 5 more minutes, until the mushrooms have released their juices.
- Stir in the dried herbs, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato paste, then bring to a low boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Stir in the lentils and brown rice.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F, then lightly grease a 9 x 13 casserole dish.
- Use a paper towel to blot the cabbage to make sure it's dry, then distribute half of it along the bottom of the dish and top with half of the sauce. Layer the remaining cabbage on top and finish with the remaining sauce. Top with cheese.
- Place the casserole in the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Turn the oven to broil and broil for 3-5 minutes, or until the cheese is lightly browned on top. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes before serving. Top with fresh parsley and serve warm.
**½ cup dry rice yields approximately 1 cup cooked. I like to use Trader Joe's frozen brown rice in this recipe to save time.