Giant Stuffed Cabbage

This stunning stuffed cabbage will delight you with its layers if meat, rice and tomato sauce filling. It slices beautifully, especially if you let it set after it bakes. Although regular green cabbage can be substituted, we prefer savoy cabbage for its deep green color, distinct veining and tender leaves. Don't be too fussy about perfecting the layers; as long as there are no obvious gaps in the bottom and sides of the souffle dish, it will turn out just right.
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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 3 hr
  • Active: 20 min
  • Yield: 8 servings
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Ingredients

3 tablespoons olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper  

1 pound savoy cabbage leaves (from 1 small head) 

1 small onion, finely diced (about 1 cup)  

1 clove garlic, finely chopped  

1 medium carrot, finely diced (about 1/2 cup) 

1 stalk celery, finely diced (about 1/2 cup) 

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped  

1 teaspoon paprika  

1 pound ground chuck  

2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped  

3/4 cup long-grain rice  

1 large egg, lightly beaten  

2 1/2 cups marinara sauce  

Directions

  1. Position a rack in the top third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Rub the inside of a 3-quart round soufflé dish with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Set aside.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Blanch the cabbage leaves for 2 minutes to soften (they will continue to cook in the oven). Gently nudge them into the water with a large spoon if they float to the top during cooking. Drain and set aside.  
  3. Heat a medium nonstick pan over medium heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil with the onion, garlic, carrot, celery, thyme, paprika, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring frequently with a heatproof silicone spatula, until vegetables are softened but not browned, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and allow to cool for 5 minutes.  
  4. Add the meat, parsley, rice, egg, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper to the vegetable mixture. Stir to combine well using the spatula.  
  5. Layer enough of the cabbage leaves to cover the bottom and up the sides of the souffle dish in a single layer, overlapping as needed to fill any visible gaps. Use the larger leaves as the veins are more pronounced; the bottom will be the presentation side after it is cooked and flipped over.  
  6. Gently spread about 1 1/4 cups of the meat mixture in the bottom of the dish in an even layer on top of the cabbage leaves. Evenly spread 4 tablespoons of marinara sauce over the meat mixture. Cover with a layer of cabbage leaves. Repeat with another layer of meat mixture, marinara sauce and cabbage leaves until all the meat mixture is used. Reserve the remaining marinara sauce for serving. Tuck the final layer of cabbage neatly into the sides, gently pressing down all around to compact it.  
  7. Tightly cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake until the cabbage is tender and the rice is cooked through, about 1 hour 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, but do not remove the foil. Allow to cool and set for at least 1 hour. Remove the foil and gently invert the stuffed cabbage onto a serving platter. Serve with the reserved warmed marinara sauce.