Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
This comfort-food recipe is a classic European dish with some healthy tweaks. I used extralean ground meat instead of fattier beef, and also used cooked whole grain barley instead of white rice. The hand-filled rolls are then baked in a sweet and sour tomato sauce. This is NOT a weeknight recipe, as it does take some time to assemble. But if it’s blustery/snowing outside and you’re cozy inside with some time to cook a truly special dish, this one is worth it. Lovingly handmade, healthy food is a great way to show someone you care. (Leftovers are even better the next day too!)
 
Cooking spray
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 pound 93% lean beef
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 cup cooked hulless barley (or brown rice, or grain of your choice)
1 head green cabbage
12 ounces tomato juice
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 tablespoons Splenda granular

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.

2. Spray a large pan with nonstick spray, and heat garlic and onion over low flame until soft, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and return pan to heat.

3. Add ground beef to skillet and cook until browned, breaking into small pieces with spatula or wooden spoon. Remove from heat and add the browned beef to the bowl with garlic and onion. Add salt, pepper, parsley and barley and stir to mix. Set aside.

4. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cut around the core of the cabbage to disconnect leaves at the base, and remove the core. Boil the whole head of cabbage for 5 minutes, then remove, let cool for a moment, and try to separate some of the outer leaves without tearing. You’ll need about 12 mostly-intact leaves. If some of the inner leaves aren’t cooked enough to be pliable, return the cabbage to the boiling water for 5 more minutes and try again. Rinse the separated leaves under cold water and set aside.

 

5. Taking one leaf at a time, place a large spoonful of beef mixture inside, near the base. Fold the sides in, and roll from the stem side to the tip of the Leaf. Place filled rolls seam-side down in an oven-safe casserole dish. Continue with the rest of the cabbage leaves until the beef filling is used up, making about 12 rolls.

6. Combine tomato juice, Splenda and vinegar in a bowl and pour over cabbage rolls. Bake for 40 minutes, spooning the sauce over the rolls once or twice during cooking.

Makes 4 servings

Per serving: 290 calories, 9 g total fat, 3 g saturated fat, 25 g total carbohydrate, 7 g dietary fiber, 27 g protein, 713 mg sodium.

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