Tasty cabbage casserole has all the flavors of stuffed cabbage but requires much less work. Leftovers are delicious, warmed up or at room temperature.
I love casseroles and make them often. They are so easy to make - you simply mix a few ingredients, throw in the baking dish and bake. And I love that they can be a complete meal.
Whenever I make this tasty cabbage casserole, I think about grandma.
My grandma Chava (Eve) used to make amazing stuffed cabbage leaves. The leaves were stuffed with a mixture of beef and rice, then cooked lovingly in tomato sauce. Grandma's stuffed cabbage leaves were delicate, flavorful, and laborious.
Grandma's entire life revolved around cooking for us, her kids and grandkids, and feeding us. She made complex recipes and basically slaved over the stove the entire day. She didn't mind. That was what she did, and our pleasure when eating her food was her reward.
I belong to a different generation. I still expect my food to taste good, but I also expect it to be easy and quick. And I almost never make complicated recipes.
That's why I love this casserole so much. It has all the wonderful flavors of stuffed cabbage, but it requires much less work.
Low carb and keto cabbage casserole, made without rice
My own version of this casserole is keto and low carb, so I don't use rice. And it comes out so good, I seriously doubt the rice is even needed. I don't think you'll miss it at all.
I have made this recipe several times over the past few months. But today, as I was cooking it, I decided at the last minute to add a pinch of cayenne. I was rewarded with a subtle heat that really enhances this dish.
The ingredients you'll need
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make this tasty cabbage casserole. The exact measurements are included in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
Green cabbage: You want it roughly chopped, so it's best to buy a whole head of cabbage and chop it yourself. Bagged chopped cabbage is usually finely chopped.
Olive oil: I love cooking with this flavorful oil. But if you're concerned about its relatively low smoke point, you can use avocado oil or unsalted butter instead.
Lean ground beef: I use a mixture of 85% lean and 15% fat.
Onion and garlic: I use the food processor to chop the onion, and I tend to use the minced garlic that comes in a jar (yes, I'm a lazy cook).
Spices: Paprika, thyme, and cayenne pepper. Make sure they are fresh! A stale spice can easily ruin a dish.
Chopped tomatoes: See the discussion below on what brand of tomatoes to use for the best results.
Kosher salt and black pepper: If using fine salt, you should reduce the amount you use, or the dish could end up too salty. A teaspoon of kosher salt weighs less than a teaspoon of regular salt.
Shredded mozzarella: You can also use other melty cheeses such as provolone or fontina.
Recommended tomato brand
I like to use the Pomi brand of chopped tomatoes in this cabbage casserole and in many of my other recipes.
Why? because the packaging is BPA free, the tomatoes contain no added sugar or salt, and because these Italian tomatoes are sweeter than American canned diced tomatoes. Cento is another good brand and it's easier to find in supermarkets.
If you can't find these brands in your grocery store, simply use drained diced tomatoes.
If you do use diced tomatoes, they come in larger chunks. So either use petite-diced tomatoes, or crush the regular diced tomatoes into smaller chunks when you stir them into the beef mixture.
How to make a cabbage casserole
It's so easy! Scroll down to the recipe card for the detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps:
Start by briefly steaming the cabbage in a covered skillet (no need for a special steamer).
Cook the beef, onions, garlic and spices in olive oil.
Add the tomatoes and cook until the liquids have evaporated.
Transfer the mixture to a greased casserole dish. Top with the cheese.
Bake the casserole for about 30 minutes at 375°F.
What to do with leftovers?
Keep leftovers of this cabbage casserole in the fridge, in an airtight container, for 3-4 days. Reheat them in the microwave, covered, on 50% power.
Like many casseroles, this one actually improves after it's been refrigerated for a day or two.
More tasty casseroles
Another casserole that I love and make often is this delicious kale casserole. It's wonderful!
And this cheesy cauliflower casserole convinces even my picky daughter to eat her cauliflower. Amazing!
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- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 medium green cabbage roughly chopped (1 lb. raw, 4 cups cooked)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 lb. 85% lean ground beef
- 1 medium onion chopped (6 oz)
- 2 teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt (or 1 teaspoon fine salt)
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 (26 oz container) Pomi chopped tomatoes, drained*
- 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella (4 oz)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 2-quart (7 X 11-inch) baking dish with olive oil.
- Place the chopped cabbage in a colander. Wash it but do not dry. The water adhering to the cabbage will allow it to steam. Place in a large pot, cover, and turn heat to high. When the cabbage starts to steam, lower heat to medium and steam until just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain well.
- Meanwhile, in a large, deep skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, about 3 minutes. Add the beef, the onion, the salt and pepper and cook until the beef is browned, about 5 minutes, stirring and breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon.
- Add the garlic, paprika, thyme, and cayenne and cook 30 seconds, stirring.
- Add the drained tomatoes. Continue to cook, stirring often, 5-10 minutes, or until liquids have evaporated. If using diced tomatoes rather than Pomi crushed tomatoes, crush them into smaller pieces as you cook them.
- Turn the heat off and stir in the cooked cabbage until well-incorporated.
- Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish, pressing on it to flatten. Sprinkle with the cheese.
- Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes, until the casserole is bubbly and the cheese is browned. Carefully tilt the baking dish into the sink and pour out any extra liquid. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.