This is what you throw together when you don’t have all day to roll the real thing.  I found this recipe on the Taste of Home site, made a few minor changes, and we really enjoyed it served on chopped kale with sour cream.  I shredded the cabbage a couple of days ahead (when I had time), so this was actually quite a quick weeknight meal (for when I didn’t have time).  It makes a great big casserole, but the leftovers frozen in lunch portions came out beautifully – enjoy!

Cabbage Roll Casserole

2 lbs. lean ground beef

1 large onion, chopped AND 3 cloves of garlic, minced

3 cans (398 mL) tomato sauce

1 t. EACH thyme, dill, sage, kosher salt AND freshly ground pepper

1 T. EACH oregano AND brown sugar,

1/4 t. cayenne (optional, to taste)

2 c. cooked brown rice AND 6 pieces of crispy bacon, crumbled

1 medium head of cabbage, shredded AND 1 c. + grated mozzarella

Preheat the oven to 375 and lightly grease a large 9 x 13 casserole (I also placed mine on a parchment lined baking sheet).  In a large skillet, cook the beef, onion and garlic over medium heat, breaking up the beef and stirring frequently until the beef in no longer pink.  Drain if necessary, then stir in 2 cans of the tomato sauce and the next 7 ingredients, also adding in the cayenne if using.  Bring everything to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes to thicken it up a bit and bring the flavors together.  Taste for seasonings (you may feel like you need more salt, but the bacon is going in), then stir in the rice and bacon and remove the skillet from the heat.

Layer a third of the cabbage into your prepared dish, top with half of the meat mix, another third of cabbage, the rest of meat and then the rest of the cabbage.  Evenly pour the last can of tomato sauce over everything and cover the casserole with foil.  Bake for 45 minutes, take the foil off, sprinkle on the cheese and bake for another 15 minutes until the cheese is melted.  Serve in big bowls (and freeze your leftovers for another easy meal!).

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