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Stuffed cabbage without rice or bread?

I want to make stuffed cabbage but omit the refined grain and or rice, since neither is permitted on my diet.

I can still use an egg to bind the meat, but will that be enough? Will the ground beef and pork dry out without a breading?

I can use a whole grain instead...is quinoa too weird for this dish?

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  1. Unless you would prefer to avoid the chewiness of the Quinoa, I don't see why it wouldn't work - precooked of course. The key to maintaining moisture in your stuffed cabbages is the amount and depth of the liquid. Try to keep the liquid at least 3/4 of the way up the sides of the cabbage rolls during baking or whatever other method of cooking you elect to use. With the Quinoa precooked it shouldnt absorb much, if any, of the liquid from the meats and cabbage.

    1. You could use barley, or whole grain rolled oats. Or just go with some grated cheese; that and the egg should hold it together. Wrapped in the cabbage, it should stay moist.

      2 Replies
      1. re: sheiladeedee

        Of course, cheese is always a welcome suggestion. Which one do you think goes with the standard sauce?

        1. re: julietg

          I like asiago for this kind of thing.

      2. How about brown rice or even wild rice (I've seen small boxes of plain wild rice minus the white rice that they usually add in); precooked once again.

        I also make these with pure ground chicken, stuffed in grape leaves instead of cabbage leaves, and cook them in my crockpot. They came out amazingly perfect.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Jen76

          Actually, Cook's Country came out with an incredible recipe in October '08 that doesn't include rice. It does include bread, but you could sub whole grain bread. I do it all the time.


        2. I like the rolled oats idea, too. Always put some in my meatloaf mix and it turns out great. You could give 'em a whirl in the Cuise to make them finer, but I usually don't do that. Adam

          1. I would include a whole grain (as many have suggested), although maybe emmer (farro) or the brown rice as opposed to quinoa. I think a bigger grain will hold up a little better and provide a texture that you (and others) are more accustomed to.

            1. my mom used to make a mock stuffed cabbage for my grandfather that didn't contain any grains at all...i guess it was really almost a sweet & sour beef & cabbage saute that she'd simmer on the stovetop for a few hours, and it had a vinegary tomato base. i know it's not exactly what you're looking for, but i'd be happy to get you the recipe if you want to try it anyway.

              9 Replies
                1. re: julietg

                  sure thing. she's sending it to me this evening, will post as soon as i get it.

                  1. re: julietg

                    so, she sent me the recipe. oy.

                    mind you, i've never actually made it – or eaten it - myself, i just remember her preparing & freezing huge batches of it for my grandfather every winter when i was little. well, with all due respect to both mom & grandpa, i couldn’t, in good Chowhound conscience, pass the recipe along as it was...no spices, no onion or garlic, waaaay too much salt (four cans of tomato soup!), and actually no vinegar – i must have been thinking of her brisket recipe on that one. anyway, let’s just say i did a little “work” on it ;)

                    one ingredient note – i’m not a huge fan of raisins, so i’d probably use chopped dried apricots instead.

                    also, you mentioned that you can't have refined grains on your diet, so if you have issues with carbs/sugar, you might have to modify this a little more (i can probably help you with that, just let me know).

                    ok, here it is:

                    MOCK STUFFED CABBAGE

                    1 large head cabbage, sliced
                    2½ - 3 lbs. ground beef (chuck or 85% lean)
                    3 cloves garlic, minced
                    1 large onion, sliced
                    3 8-oz. cans no salt added tomato sauce
                    Juice of 2 lemons
                    ¼ cup cider vinegar
                    2 tsp kosher salt
                    ½ tsp. pepper
                    1 tbsp. dry mustard
                    ¼ cup brown sugar
                    ¼ cup golden raisins

                    In a large Dutch oven or stovetop casserole, brown the beef with the onions and garlic (if it looks like there isn’t enough room for all of it in the pot, do this in a couple of batches to ensure that it browns instead of steaming). Drain off the oil, and transfer the meat mixture to a bowl. Spread a layer of sliced cabbage in the pot (about ½ inch thick), followed by a layer of the meat mixture. Continue layering cabbage and meat until you use them up. Combine tomato sauce, juice of 2 lemons, cider vinegar, salt, pepper and dry mustard in a large bowl or measuring cup, mix well, and pour over layered cabbage and beef, distributing evenly. Do not stir. Cover, and cook over medium-low heat, undisturbed, for approximately 1 hour.

                    After 1 hour, sprinkle in brown sugar and raisins. Continue cooking, uncovered, for another 1-1 ½ hours, or until liquid is reduced and sauce has thickened.

                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      Wow. Thank you so much for this!

                      As for the sugar sub, I guess I could use a few TB of agave or honey, no? I am still on the hunt for Stevia in NYC...

                      1. re: julietg

                        wait, you're "still on the hunt" for stevia? in NYC? are you serious? you can buy it everywhere! well, ok, maybe not EVERYWHERE, but so many places carry it now. any one of the gazillion natural food stores in the city should have it, and WFM and the Vitamin Shoppe both carry my favorite one - KAL Pure Stevia Extract Powder. it's the only powder i'll use, and believe me, i've tried them ALL. if you prefer liquid, SweetLeaf Stevia Clear is the best one.

                        but if you don't want to bother with the stevia & you happen to have some agave in the house, use about 2.5 tablespoons of that...and to reduce the sugar even further, you can omit the raisins.

                        if you end up making it, please let me know how it turns out!

                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                          Well, the hubby found it at TJs. Will report back!

                          1. re: julietg

                            oy, he got the TJ's stevia? i have to say, i'm really not a fan. i'd hate to see you ruin all that food with icky stevia! try it in coffee or tea or something before you use it in the recipe - if you don't like the way it tastes, use agave instead.

                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                              Blech, patooie!

                              It has an aftertaste like sacchrine, that stayed with me from the cup of coffee through the entire dog walk. On to the Vitamin Shoppe it is.

                              1. re: julietg

                                i'm so glad you took my advice to try it that way first - i really don't like TJ's stevia. a word of warning about the KAL powder - it's very concentrated stuff, so a little goes a long way. if you use too much it just tastes bitter, so start with a light sprinkle (but do it carefully, because my one complaint about their product is that the shaker holes are too big!)

                2. how about a version with barley (as sheiladeedee also suggests)? http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/wa...

                  i've also had stuffed cabbage preparations that did not use any grains at all and were not dry, since they were cooked in a tomato-y sauce. one version i had at a restaurant included eggplant, which kept the meat even more moist.

                  1. Try tofu, or quick cooking (not instant) oatmeal.

                    1. There's no reason you can't create a delicious stuffed cabbage without any extender in the meat mixture. Because it's rolled up in cabbage leaves, then simmered in a sauce, it's not going to dry out. If you decide to use an egg, go light with the quantity because it can give a rubbery texture to the finished dish. You can also substitute vegetable extenders for the bread crumbs or rice. Grated carrots or cored zucchini (to lower the moisture content)i. Maybe a little mashed cooked eggplant. A tomato concasse. Potatoes, white or sweet, or mild turnips. Even chopped cabbage! Let us know what you decide and how it turns out.

                      1. Farro is an excellent idea (I think I'll try it myself). Bulgar wheat is easier to find, and it might work. Rolled oats will turn to a gooey mush -- you'll end up with cabbage haggis. Not sure about barley, but it may be on the gooey side as well. The only problem with brown rice, assuming you like the texture, is figuring out how long to cook it before adding to the other ingredients so it's not too al dente or overcooked. Farro is more forgiving in that respect.

                        In New Orleans, some folks make stuffed bell peppers without any rice at all and it tastes just fine. Just increase the veggies a bit. The stuffing doesn't hold together very well, but that's not a big deal. You could add another egg to compensate a bit.

                        1. Bulgur works really well in stuffed cabbage, you basically just hydrate it in hot water.
                          It helps the meat move through you too! ;)
                          Am planning on doing cabbage rolls with bulgur this week actually, along with a mixture of sirloin and turkey.
                          Also, the bulgur helps the meat mixture stay moist, it is not at all drying.

                          1. another whole grain option...toasted buckwheat groats (kasha). very hearty - should hold up well.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                              This was going to be my suggestion, as well.

                            2. Well, I made it with barley. Eh, not so much. It's too large and doesn't incorporate nicely.

                              Next time, I think I may try chickpeas or beans.

                              1. Here's a recipe for a recipe called Casseola, Italian Stuffed Savoy Cabbage....
                                1 ½ pounds of Savoy Cabbage
                                3 carrots
                                ½ large onion
                                6 slices of bacon (or pancetta),
                                4 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
                                ½ cup of grated parmesan cheese or more.. also any cheese can be subbed
                                Salt and pepper

                                As you can see - no grain and very little meat. You remove 8 or so good outer leaves and blanch them for a few minutes then drain them on a paper towel. The rest of the cabbage, carrots and onions are chopped and sauteed till wilted but not brown then the diced bacon or Pancetta (which I use) is added. Season with Kosher salt & FGBPepper

                                Put a cabbage leaf on a chopping board, fill with 1/8 of the stuffing mix and sprinkle with half a tablespoon of parmesan cheese. Fold the sides towards the middle and roll the leaf up, place with folded side down on a baking sheet. Repeat until the ingredients have been used up. Sprinkle with the remaining parmesan.

                                Bake 15 minutes at 350*... this serves 4..

                                2 Replies
                                  1. re: Gio

                                    Someone made that for me before, it was excellent. Never knew the recipe. very good.

                                  2. Ditto to who mentioned eggplant. I make a veggie non carb stuffed cabbage roll. I love them. I do use some chic peas which you could eliminate and some eggplant and also onion, garlic and all the regular ingredients. Sometimes even some zuchinni to add moisture, egg is still great. All works well, the same tomato sauce everything traditional except for the fillings. Non refined rice is my first choice, but getting away from all carbs is fine. Hope it helps.

                                    1. Korean Clam Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

                                      10 Napa Cabbage leaves (Sub Chinese cabbage or western cabbage)
                                      1/2 bunch watercress
                                      2 tablespoons blended sesame/soy bean oil

                                      1 1/2 cups Clam meat (substitute or combine with crab, lobster, or shrimp)
                                      1 Onion
                                      3 Eggs
                                      Clam Seasoning Mix

                                      Broth Mix:
                                      1/2 cup unsalted Beef broth
                                      1 tablespoon Soy sauce
                                      2 teaspoons Sugar

                                      Clam Seasoning Mix:
                                      1/2 teaspoon Salt
                                      1 teaspoon Sesame seed paste*
                                      1 green onion
                                      3 fresh cloves garlic
                                      1/2 teaspoon Pepper



                                      Cabbage Leaves
                                      Bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat.
                                      Holding the leafy potion of the cabbage leaves, place the stem (thicker) portion into the boiling water until they soften, then drop completely into the water.
                                      Boil for 3 minutes, remove from water and drain.

                                      Clam Meat
                                      Remove clam meat from shell, clean, and wash.
                                      Place into boiling water and boil for about four to five minutes.
                                      Remove meat from pot, drain and cool.
                                      Coarse chop the meat.

                                      Mince onion and stir fry (saute) for 1 minute.
                                      Set aside.

                                      Clam Seasoning Mix
                                      * Dry toast 2 teaspoons sesame seeds in a hot wok/skillet until golden brown.
                                      * Place in a mortar and grind with pestle until you have a fine smooth paste.
                                      Mince green onion and garlic cloves, then mix all seasoning ingredients.

                                      Mix Stuffing
                                      Combine chopped clam, minced onion, and stuffing mix together.
                                      Mix well.

                                      Hard cook eggs by boiling over high heat for about 13 minutes.
                                      Cool, peel, and cut each egg into quarters from top to bottom.

                                      Wash in cold water then immerse the stem portion in boiling water for about 1 1/2 minutes.

                                      Fill leaves
                                      Spread the cabbage leaves then cut away the thickest portion of the stems.
                                      Place about one tablespoon of the stuffing and one egg quarter on each leaf, then roll carefully, folding the outer edges inward "burrito" style.
                                      Tie each roll with watercress stem.

                                      Mix broth ingredients together in a mixing bowl.
                                      Heat a large fry pan over high heat.
                                      Add oil, then cabbage rolls. Cook about 45 seconds to 1 minute on each side, until lightly browned.
                                      Reduce heat to low and pour the broth mix over the rolls.
                                      Simmer over low heat fifteen to eighteen minutes.

                                      Serve hot with sticky rice and ban chan.

                                      1. Oatmeal. The regular, not the instant kind. It works well in meatloaf, I'm sure it would work well here.

                                        1. This is an off the wall answer, but one I would probably try in your circumstances. The traditional wrappings for tamales include avocado leaves and edible leaves of members of the goosefoot family--especially Swiss chard. I don't see why you couldn't put tamales inside those cabbage leaves. And if the grain is a problem, skip the masa and simply use the filling. But I'd probably be nuts enough to try to find a protein to replace the dumpling part of a tamale. Mmm, meringue anyone? Ground nuts bound with egg? Or look to India with the wonderful fillings that go into samosas. Curried lentils? Cauliflower? I can think of all kinds of winter squash variations--almost anything that would go into a raviolo. Or even refried beans. So if you think quinoa is too weird, you don't know what weird is. I think quinoa would be very good.

                                          1. TVP crushed a little more finely than it comes works great as a binder!

                                            2 Replies