Skip the cabbage rolling and focus your efforts on flavour. This cabbage roll casserole is simple, healthy, and delicious packed with lentils, a wonderful source of added protein and fibre!
YIELD: SERVES 4
1 tbsp butter
1 fresh sausage, casing removed
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 small or ½ large cabbage, cored and chopped
3 cups cooked rice
4 cups cooked lentils
3½ cups canned tomatoes, puréed, or tomato sauce
salt and pepper
(Optional additions: breadcrumbs on top, olives peas or corn, cheese, any spice combination, ground beef, turkey, or pork instead of lentils and sausage, swiss chard or collards.)
Heat the oven to 350 °F. Melt the butter in a large pan over medium heat. Slice the casing off of the sausage and crumble the raw meat into the pan. Sauté the meat until it’s no longer pink, then move it to a large bowl.
Sauté the onion and garlic in the same pan, with the sausage drippings. Once the onion turns translucent, add the cabbage and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, until tender enough to jab easily with a fork. Season generously with salt and pepper.
While the cabbage cooks, mix the rice and lentils into the sausage bowl. Add salt, pepper, and any other spices you’d like. I’d suggest repeating whatever spices are in the sausage: in the case of chorizo, that was paprika, cumin, and dried chilies, but if you were using Italian sausage, you might add some fennel seeds. Make sure you taste the mixture as you season it. If both parts of the casserole are tasty, you’ll end up with a delicious meal. If they aren’t seasoned well, it’ll be bland.
Lightly oil a large casserole dish. Spread the lentil-rice-sausage mixture into an even layer. Next, spread the cabbage mixture on top. Then, as evenly as possible, pour the puréed tomatoes over top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Bake until hot and bubbly, approximately 30 minutes.