Well guys, I’m almost a third of the way through the Whole30. And I have to say- I actually don’t want it to end!
I feel GREAT. Not only have I noticed numerous health/physical changes, but I haven’t been this excited about cooking in a while. I’m cooking with ingredients I haven’t really used before, and finding super creative ways to make classic recipes to stay within the guidelines of the Whole30.
Which brings me to my recipe for this post. Ever had stuffed cabbage? It’s one of those delicious, simple tasting dishes that is oh-so-comforting. But it’s often NOT a simple process to make: it requires blanching pieces of cabbage, filling them with a mixture of beef and rice, rolling them like enchiladas, and baking. It can take a very long time to prep as well as cook.
This Spicy Stuffed Cabbage Casserole takes only FIVE MINUTES OF PREP. It’s a hassle-free way to get the awesome homemade taste of stuffed cabbage, but your slow cooker does all the work. No rolling, no blanching… just mix some things together and turn on!
And this version is Whole30 (and Paleo) compliant, because instead of using rice as in traditional stuffed cabbage, cauliflower rice is used instead. (But don’t worry: I included directions for using brown rice in the recipe below if prefer for all you grain-eating people.)
Let’s talk about cauliflower rice for a minute. If you’ve been on Pinterest in the last few months, chances are you’ve seen something about this latest grain-free substitute for rice. And I have to say… it’s pretty darn good! The taste of cauliflower is neutral enough that it can mimic rice in texture for many dishes, without overpowering the flavor. I made burrito bowls the other night with my smoky Mexican pulled chicken over cauliflower rice, and it was awesome! And since I made a bunch over the weekend, all I had to do was reheat it for burrito bowls and use the rest in this stuffed cabbage casserole recipe.
Here’s a great on how to make your own cauliflower rice.
This recipe is as simple as it comes: both in the way it’s made and in taste. I love dishes that pack a big punch of flavor, but I also like very simple comfort foods, like this casserole. It has the consistency of chili (and in my opinion, is best eaten with a spoon) and simple Italian flavors from the garlic, Italian seasoning, and fresh parsley added at the end. It’s a wee bit spicy from crushed red pepper- but if spicy isn’t your thing, you can certainly omit it.
And the best part? This recipe makes a TON. On thing I’m finding on Whole30 is that I need much less food in order to be satisfied. This is because the food that you do eat is extremely nutrient-dense. We ate this for dinner, for lunch the next day, AND I have a good amount in my freezer just waiting for a night that I’m too busy to cook.
Three quick tips:
- Go heavy on the salt. Because the ingredients are somewhat bland and simple, you’ll need a lot of salt to season it.
- When you mix the ingredients together, you may need to use your hands. Since there are so many ingredients, and very little liquid, it will be hard to stir with a spoon.
- Make sure you add the fresh parsley at the end and not before cooking. Fresh herbs are almost always added toward the end of recipes, so their flavor is stronger and brighter.
And finally, if you aren’t on a dairy free diet, I believe this would be AMAZING with some mozzarella cheese melted on top. Just add it on top of the casserole after its done cooking and place the cover back on, and let it melt for a few minutes before serving!
Sigh. I do miss cheese.
Recipe below. Enjoy!
|Slow Cooker Stuffed Cabbage Casserole|| || |
- ½ cabbage, roughly sliced (about 4-5 cups total)
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or minced
- 1.5 lbs. ground beef
- 1.5 cups crushed tomatoes (1 small can)
- 2 cups cauliflower rice*
- 4 tablespoons ghee / clarified butter (or regular butter)
- 1 heaping tablespoons Italian Seasoning
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- plenty of salt and freshly ground pepper
- ½ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
- Stir together all ingredients except fresh parsley in a 7-8 quart slow cooker, making sure it's well combined.
- Cook on low for 7-8 hours or high for 3.5-4 hours, or until beef is fully cooked.
- Stir in fresh parsley.
Freeze leftovers in an airtight container for up to 6 months.
If you are using a very lean ground beef, I recommend adding just a little bit of liquid to the casserole- just a half cup of water, chicken broth, or veggie broth.
Optional: add mozzarella cheese! Just add it on top of the casserole after its done cooking and place the cover back on, and let it melt for a few minutes before serving.