The Ultimate Stuffed Cabbage Hack
A non-traditional stuffed cabbage dish. Chaya Rappoport/The Nosher
active: 45 min
(The Nosher/JTA) My mother’s stuffed cabbage is one of my favorite dishes in the world. She makes it with ground beef and rice and simmers the stuffed cabbage leaves in a rich, savory tomato sauce. I could eat trays of it.
My late grandmother used to make a vegetarian version, hers included rice, mushrooms, and barley. The sauce was sweeter than my mother’s, leaning a little more to the Polish side of tradition, where sweet foods are more prevalent. I could also eat trays of her stuffed cabbage and I savored the scent of her cooking it up on special days before Sukkot and Simchat Torah.
There are countless delicious ways to make stuffed cabbage, with influences ranging from Eastern Europe to Asia, but all of them are undoubtedly a patchke (a bit of work). The leaves need to be boiled or frozen to become pliable enough for stuffing and wrapping and the entire process from start to finish can take a good couple of hours.
Stuffed cabbage - reinvented. Chaya Rappaport/The Nosher
It wasn’t until Sukkot of last year when I helped one of my aunts make kraut lokshen, or cabbage noodles, an Ashkenazi cabbage dish made of sauteed cabbage and egg noodles, that I thought of making unstuffed cabbage. Inspired by my aunt’s simple but delicious dish, I realized that instead of stuffing each cabbage leaf separately, I could cook everything together in one big pot, eliminating most of the work, but none of the taste.
These unstuffed cabbage noodles combine the best elements of each dish — the cabbage and egg noodles from kraut lokshen, the meat and tomato sauce from stuffed cabbage — for a dish that’s hearty, savory and delicious. Smoky, salty beef bacon adds a layer of savory flavor to the dish, a tablespoon of sugar perks up the tomato sauce and the flavorful sauce is simmered and thickened before being combined with the noodles.
These noodles could never replace stuffed cabbage, what could? But this dish is an easy, tasty twist on tradition for when you don’t have hours to spend stuffing little bundles. Serve them on a chilly fall night, in a cozy Sukkah, or simply when you need a comforting dinner.