I think just about every cuisine in the world has a stuffed cabbage roll in one version or the other! They each are reflective of their countries in what they are stuffed with and also the sauce they are served with. These Italian Sausage Stuffed Cabbage Rolls are very simple with just Italian sausage, leek, carrots, and garlic and they are baked in a white wine reduction. Read on!
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Scroll to the end to see how to enjoy Italian Sausage Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with no rolling!
What kind of cabbage should I use?
I like using a Savoy cabbage because the leaves are large and easy to fold after they are steamed. I put the whole head of cabbage in a large pot with about a half cup of water, put the lid on, and let it steam till it is tender through. It takes 15-20 minutes.
You can use whatever Italian sausage you like ... spicy or mild. I have these Calabrian sausages that I buy from our local Italian restaurant owner and they are superb in this recipe. Buy the sausage in bulk or remove it from the casing before cooking it.
Italian Sausage Stuffed Cabbage Rolls call for a leek, carrots, and garlic to season the sausage with. If you can't find a leek, just use the same amount of onion. I usually scrub my carrots good, but leave the peel on.
Add the vegetables to the sausage after it's browned and let it cook for 10-12 minutes till they start getting a bit tender.
To make the "sauce" for baking:
You'll just need some chopped shallot, white wine, and fresh basil. I recommend a dry white wine like an unoaked Chardonnay or a crisp Sauvignon Blanc.
If you have a skillet that can go in the oven ... like a cast iron one ... make the sauce right in that skillet.
How to make the cabbage rolls
Carefully peel the cabbage leaves off of the head of cabbage after it has cooled. Then put two or three spoonsful of the sausage mixture in the middle of each leaf. I find it easiest to roll the "stem" of the cabbage leaf over the filling first, then fold the sides in, and finally, roll it closed. Kind of like a burrito.
Then snuggle the cabbage rolls into the skillet with the shallot-white wine-basil mixture and spoon some of the top of each roll. If you don't have a skillet that can go in the oven, make the sauce in a small pot, then put the cabbage rolls in a baking dish and pour the white wine mixture over.
Bake it for 20 minutes, checking halfway through to be sure there's still enough liquid.
Then for some extra yumminess ... add some pats of butter on top, then about a cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
It goes back into the oven to melt the cheese and get golden. I like turning the broiler on for a bit at the end for some extra crispiness.
How to serve Italian Sausage Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
I serve them just like this, on their own, followed by a green salad with vinaigrette. It makes for a light, yet filling dinner. However, if you are serving growing kiddos or just want a little more caloric substance, serve it with rice, mashed potatoes, or creamy polenta.
Can you give me a simplified version of these wonderful flavors?
ABSOLUTELY! You might think this sounds really delicious, but that there's no way you'd steam a whole head of cabbage, and never would you be caught dead rolling the filling into the leaves! I get it ... it sounds like a bit of work.
If these flavors sound delicious to you, but you don't have the time to be fussy, I recommend shredding some cabbage and sauteing it with the sausage, leek, carrots, and garlic, then deglaze the skillet with the white wine, sprinkle the basil in. That makes it a one-skillet dinner which is always a win!! It would be delicious with rice and don't forget the freshly grated Parmesan cheese!
Other recipes you might like:
Italian Sausage Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
- 1 head Savoy cabbage
- 1 pound hot Italian sausage can use mild if you prefer
- 1 small leek diced
- 2 cloves garlic chopped small
- 2 medium carrots diced small
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 shallot chopped small
- 1 cup dry white wine an unoaked Chardonnay or a Sauvignon Blanc
- ¼ cup fresh basil chopped
- 3-4 Tablespoons butter
- parmiggianno-reggiano freshly grated
- Heat the oven to 350°F. See notes for a non-fussy version of these flavors!
- Place the whole cabbage in a large pot with about ¾ cup salted water. Steam until it is barely tender, about 15-20 minutes. You can use a vegetable steamer if you want, but it's not required. Remove the cabbage to a platter to cool before you peel away the leaves.
- While the cabbage is steaming and cooling, brown the sausage in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the leek, garlic, and carrots, and let them cook about 10 minutes, just till they are getting tender. Turn off the heat and reserve.
- In a large skillet that can go in the oven, add the olive oil, then the diced shallot, allowing it cook on medium to medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. Carefully, pour the wine into the skillet or saucepan to deglaze and cook off the alcohol. Add the chopped basil. Turn off the heat and reserve. If you don't have a skillet that can go in the oven, saute the shallots in a small pot, then use a baking dish to bake the cabbage rolls in. Just put the rolls in the dish, then pour the shallot mixture over before baking.
- Peel away the leaves of the cabbage, spoon some sausage mixture onto one at a time, folding the edges in before rolling it closed. Place the cabbage rolls on top of the white wine sauce, spooning some sauce over each roll as you place it in the skillet. Keep rolling and filling the skillet.
- Put the skillet in the oven for 10 minutes. Check to be sure the skillet still has plenty of liquid. Add more if necessary. Leave the skillet in the oven for another 10 minutes.
- Remove the skillet from the oven. If the pan is dry, add more white wine, then add the butter in three or four pieces. Cover the cabbage rolls with the Parmiggiano-Reggiano.
- Return the skillet to the oven, baking just till the cheese is melted and golden, about 15 minutes. Sometimes, I put on the broiler at the last minute just to get more golden on the cheese!