Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

For a hearty cold-weather main course, I put together a healthier spin on Stuffed Cabbage Rolls that uses ground turkey, quinoa and spinach in the filling to lighten the calorie and fat content while still offering a deeply satisfying and filling meal. You can certainly substitute ground beef and/or rice in the filling if you prefer.

Makes 9 cabbage rolls

1 cabbage, with leaves large enough to roll

To soften the leaves for filling, very carefully peel off 9 leaves so that you don’t tear them. It never hurts to prepare a couple of extra leaves, just in case. In a large pan with a lid, bring a couple of cups of water to a boil. Add the leaves, cover, and leave them in for about 5 minutes until they’ve just wilted. Remove from heat and drain.

Tomato sauce:

1/2 of a medium onion, diced small

4 cloves garlic, crushed

1 Tb brown sugar

1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes

2 Tb olive oil

1 Tb apple cider or balsamic vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

Sautée the onion and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat for about 7 minutes, until softened. Add the tomatoes, vinegar, brown sugar, salt and pepper, and simmer for an additional 10 minutes.

The filling:

1 lb ground turkey

1 ½ cups cooked quinoa.

To cook quinoa, bring 1 cup quinoa in 1 1/2 c water with a pinch salt to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork, and let rest covered for 5 minutes.

1/2 of a medium onion, diced small

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 cups fresh spinach

1 egg

Salt and pepper

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp oregano

1/2 a zucchini, grated

1 tsp Red pepper flakes

In a skillet, sautée the onion and garlic over medium heat for about six minutes, stirring occasionally, and adding a very slight splash of water about midway through to keep them nicely hydrated. Add the zucchini and spinach and cook for another four to five minutes until they’ve softened/wilted. Add a pinch each of salt and pepper along with the cumin and oregano. Stir and remove from heat. Allow to cool enough to be able to handle. In a bowl, mix the sautéed vegetables with the raw ground turkey, the cooked quinoa, and a raw egg. Add a little more salt and pepper.

To assemble the rolls:

In the center of each leaf, put about 1/2 cup of the filling, turn up one side of the leaf, fold over the two sides, and roll it up.

Place your cabbage rolls in a baking pan that you’ve lined with a bit of the sauce, spread out evenly across the bottom. Pour the rest of the sauce over the top and bake in a 350 degree oven for 60 minutes, or until the internal temperature of your rolls reaches 165 degrees. Remove from heat and let rest for a few minutes before serving.