Easy Italian Cabbage Rolls


Cabbage is not only good for you, thankfully, it’s tasty, too. Fairly easy to locate it in the produce aisle of your favorite supermarket, once blanched, you can make so many things with cabbage leaf wrappers, from egg rolls to little packages of tasty, beef fun.


I know that I love coleslaw, and I am such a fan of the ferment (in the form of sauerkraut), but I’d never played with them, blanched them, or used them to wrap up some savory innards. That said, these easy cabbage rolls were inspired by the phenomenal Deb at Smitten Kitchen. I am glad she shared how fun and easy it is to use savoy. I am a bit of a chicken sometimes.


Easy Italian Cabbage Rolls

1 large savoy cabbage
1/2 cup flax seed meal
1/2 cup canned, unsweetened coconut milk (you can use heavy cream instead)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup chopped, fresh parsley
1 clove garlic, minced
16 ounces lean ground beef
1 tsp coarse sea salt
1 tsp fresh-ground pepper

2 15-ounce jars (3 cups total) of no-sugar-added, store brand pizza sauce + 1/2 jar hot water

Toothpicks (preferably flat)

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Slowly and gently peel 12 intact, cabbage leaves (if a couple rip slightly, that’s fine. They can be pinned back together.  Blanch a few leaves at a time for about 1 minute in the boiling water, until wilted and soft, and spread out on towels to cool until you’re ready to bring the magic.

For the filling, place flax seed meal in a large mixing bowl and pour coconut milk over the top. Let sit for a few minutes (the flax seed meal will thicken), then combine with a fork. Incorporate the hamburger, parsley, Parmesan, garlic, salt and black pepper with a fork.

Lay your blanched cabbage leaf on a cutting board. Form the filling mixture into 12, roughly 2″ balls. Wrap the cabbage leaf around each ball and secure  with a toothpick (use two, placed in an “x” if one isn’t enough). Repeat with remaining leaves and hamburger mixture.

Bring the sauce and 1/2 jar of water to a gentle boil in a 12″ saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Add cabbage packages and  cover the pan. Gently simmer for 20 minutes (my 12″ pan is so large that I use a cookie sheet to cover the pan. With makeshift, metal lids, be sure to use an oven mitt to remove the cover when checking the cabbages or you’ll burn/scald your hands). Remove the toothpicks and carefully turn the rolls over, cooking them for another 20 minutes. (To remove the toothpicks, I typically use a large spoon to gently hold the cabbage packages down and use tongs to remove each toothpick; then I carefully flip all of the cabbage packages over.) Remove the lid and simmer for another 15 minutes to thicken the sauce slightly. Serve hot.

Refrigerate or freeze leftovers.

Makes 12 rolls.

Per cabbage roll + 1/4 cup sauce: 152 Cals.; 10 g Carbs.; 4 g Fiber; 6 g Net Carbs. ; 11 g Protein; 9 g Fat
Per cabbage roll and 2 Tbsp sauce: 132 Cals.; 8 g Carbs.; 3.5 g Fiber; 4.5 g Net Carbs. ; 10.5 g Protein; 9 g Fat
The sauce adds to each serving: 40 Cals.; 6 g Carbs.; 1 g Fiber; 5 Net Carbs.; 1 g Protein, 0 g Fat


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  1. Very, very interesting…does the flax replace the rice? I read this, and am guessing it does.

    I cannot wait to try this one…sounds delicious.

    As always, Jamie, you have a winner.


  2. I like this idea a lot, but we need to come up with a Jewish version…should have a bit of a sweet-and-sour taste.

  3. GREAT TIP: the wosrt part of making cabbage rolls is prepping the leaves. An old Polish lady once shared her secret … freeze the entire cabbage head for at least a week. Remove and thaw the night before you want to make them. The leaves will peel off easily and roll like a charm. You won’t even need the toothpicks!

    Thanks for all your great recipes!

  4. Love cabbage rolls, going to have to try these this weekend!

  5. We can’t have the flax, any suggestions of a sub? Thanks! Looks DELICIOUS!

  6. Lovely! I should have read ahead and started these at 4 pm instead of 7 pm, but they’re absolutely gorgeous! I didn’t have flaxseed meal so I threw in some almond meal and coconut flour instead. I was worried the coconut milk would taste odd with the beef but it complements it quite well!
    Thank you for the recipe!

  7. I will be making these soon! Just curious if I can use flax meal in place of flour in recipes like meatballs?

  8. I made these this weekend and they were wonderful! I couldn’t find any no sugar added tomato sauce, so I bought 10 roma tomatos, put them in my Ninja and made my own tomato sauce! It was great. I was able to season the sauce at the same time and cut the carbs. Thanks for this wonderful recipe.

  9. I will have to try these – however, I was wondering if you could use cauliflower in place of the rice if you do not have any flax on hand?

  10. Hello I’m new to the Atkins Diet and I’m just browsing looking for recipes. Am I correct that Flax seeds can be eaten in the Induction phase?


    • Hi, Diane! Flax seeds, depending on the Atkins plan, are fine in induction, but you’re technically supposed to keep them to the amount needed for digestive health. I would think maybe 4 Tbsp/week, to be safe. People tend to use a lot of the stuff, and I don’t think it’s a great idea.

  11. THESE.ARE.FANTASTIC! I made a few tweaks: I used ground turkey (we don’t eat red meat/pork), and I used less tomato sauce to cut sodium…it was still DELICIOUS! Thanks for posting! Oh, and I found that you don’t have to use toothpicks if you cook the leaves a little longer, say 1.5 mins.

  12. Do you cook the ground meat first?


  1. […] Easy Italian Cabbage Rolls (from Your Lighter Side) […]

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