These unstuffed cabbage rolls taste just like the traditional recipe with a fraction of the effort. Lightened up with ground turkey and served over cauliflower rice for a low-carb meal.
You may have heard of stuffed cabbage rolls, but what about “unstuffed cabbage rolls”?! I personally love this version because it’s lightened up and so much easier than the classic recipe. You can make this dinner in a fraction of the time it takes to make the traditional stuffed cabbage, which requires boiling the cabbage leaves and rolling the meat inside. And, trust me it is still equally delicious!
Traditional Cabbage Rolls
Traditional cabbage rolls are made up of cooked cabbage leaves holding a variety of fillings. There’s typically a mixture of ground pork and ground beef, rice and some sort of tomato product. It’s a common dish in many areas of Europe, West Asia and Egypt. I’ve never actually made traditional cabbage rolls, but Isaac’s mom makes them. She’s been making them for years and if you asked her she’d probably tell you they are a breeze to whip up, however I know they are time consuming.
To make these unstuffed cabbage rolls a bit lighter, I used ground turkey instead of beef or pork. And instead of brown sugar that most recipes call for, I used apple sauce for a hint of sweetness. Last but not least, I served the unstuffed cabbage rolls over cauliflower rice, which packs in more veggies and keeps this dish low-carb.
What You Need for Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls
This lightened up, easy version of cabbage rolls requires less than 15 ingredients.
vegetables – cabbage, garlic, yellow onion and parsley for garnish
cauliflower rice (or regular rice)
canned diced tomatoes
unsweetened apple sauce
apple cider vinegar
seasoning and spices – cinnamon, salt and pepper
Okay, I have to get this off my chest. Why is cabbage such an underrated vegetable?! I personally love cabbage. Maybe the lack of color makes people think of bland, nutrient-less lettuce, but interesting enough, cabbage isn’t in the lettuce family, it’s actually a cruciferous vegetable, like broccoli and cauliflower. It’s packed with nutrients, specifically vitamin K, vitamin C and folate. It’s also high in fiber and antioxidants. It has a neutral flavor (in my opinion) and can be eaten raw or cooked. (Source)
These unstuffed cabbage rolls taste just like the traditional recipe with a fraction of the effort. Packed with vegetables and flavor, it’s the perfect weeknight dinner.
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 lb ground turkey
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 14 oz can of diced tomatoes (I like fire-roasted)
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 head (about 7 cups) shredded green cabbage
cauliflower rice (or regular rice), for serving
fresh parsley, for garnish
Heat a Dutch oven or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil and once hot add turkey, onion and garlic into the Dutch oven until browned and crumbly, about 5 to 7 minutes.
Add shredded cabbage, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, apple cider vinegar, apple sauce, cinnamon, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover Dutch oven, reduce heat, and simmer until cabbage is tender, about 30 minutes.
Stir over warm cauliflower rice or your favorite rice. Garnish with fresh parsley and enjoy.