Sweet and Sour Unstuffed Cabbage

Wheat-free * Dairy-free * Gluten-free *  Paleo ~~ 


My grandmother made the world’s best stuffed cabbage.  I have the recipe and have made it occasionally but it’s such a pain to make the cabbage rolls that it’s enough to discourage all but the most determined cook – and frankly I’m rarely that determined.  Here is where my sister comes in.  She is a natural out-of-the-box thinker and she created unstuffed cabbage.  You make the meatballs and just cook them in the same sauce as the stuffed cabbage, but add lots of shredded cabbage.  YUM and easy!

The challenge of converting this recipe to paleo was the meatballs because grandma always put rice in with the meat and since I don’t eat rice, I needed something the give the meatballs more interest and keep them from becoming too dry.  After many tries I finally came up with this recipe that I just love.

First I added pork to the beef to add moisture (grandma definitely did not use pork as she was kosher).  Then I added the cauliflower and potato flakes to capture the moisture and make the meat fluffier.  Onion and garlic – well I don’t have to tell you what onion and garlic do.  A little tomato sauce also adds to both texture and flavor.

I am so happy with the results I have to restrain myself from going back not just for seconds, but also for third and fourth servings.

Now that I have totally convinced you that Unstuffed Cabbage is the way to go, for anyone who still likes their cabbage stuffed, just use this filling and roll it up in parboiled cabbage leaves and cook according to the recipe

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BTW I freeze these in individual servings and when I need a quick dinner just pop one in the microwave.

Hope you love this as much as I do.
Unstuffed Cabbage


Like many recipes that call for ground meat, you can use any kind you like with the understanding that the amount of fat in the mix will effect the moistness of the meatball.

1 pound ground lean beef

1/2 pound ground pork

1/2 cup minced cauliflower

1/3 cup minced onion

4 cloves garlic, minced; divided                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1 (15-ounce can) tomato sauce, divided

1/4 cup potato flakes

1 egg

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Salt to taste

4 cups shredded cabbage

1 1/2 cups chopped onion

1 (14 1/2 ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 cup water

1 1/2 cups drained sauerkraut

1/3 cup sauerkraut juice

2 tablespoons maple syrup

In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, ground pork, minced  onion, 1/2 of the minced garlic (2 cloves), 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce, potato flakes, egg, black pepper, and salt.  Form into 12 meatballs

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In a 5 or 6-quart pot combine the chopped onion, shredded cabbage, diced tomatoes (with canning liquid), water, the remaining tomato sauce, sauerkraut, sauerkraut juice, maple syrup, and remaining 2 cloves minced garlic. Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 30 minutes.


Add meatballs to the pot.


Return to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes longer.


Serves:  4 to 6






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