1 cup cooked long grain rice (or 1/3 cup of uncooked rice that you need to cook before starting the recipe)
1 (14 oz) can tomato sauce (or puree a 15 oz can of diced tomatoes)
1–2 garlic cloves, minced
salt, ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Melt 1 Tablespoon of butter or oil in a skillet. Add onions, carrot and celery. Season with salt and ground black pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes on medium heat, until the vegetables are tender. Add the shredded cabbage, pour in about 1/2 cup of water and cook for another 3-5 minutes, until the cabbage is softened too. Cool slightly.
In a large bowl, combine the ground meat, cooked rice, cooked vegetables and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper.
Form the meat mixture into oval patties, about 1/4 cup each, placing them into a 13×9 inch glass baking dish.
In the same skillet you were using to cook the vegetables, add the remaining 1 teaspoon of butter or oil and add the minced garlic, sautéing for only about 30 seconds. Pour in the tomato sauce and another 1/2 cup of water. Season with salt and ground black pepper. You can also add some herbs or spices. Bring the tomato sauce to a boil.
I love adding a bit of garlic to the sauce to make it more flavorful. If I’m using homemade sauce, it’s already very flavorful and has garlic in it, so I skip adding more garlic, but add the water and heat it up. Heating up the sauce takes only a minute, but will really speed up the cooking process. Since I already used the skillet to cook the veggies, it’s not going to be an extra skillet to wash, so I like to do this. If you don’t heat up the sauce, bake the cabbage rolls in the oven longer.
Pour the tomato sauce over the cabbage rolls.
Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake for about 35 min, or until the meat is cooked through and tender.
Another variation of making lazy cabbage rolls is shallow frying in a skillet.
Heat about 1 Tablespoon oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Dredge the oval patties in flour and add to pan, cooking for about 3 min per side, until lightly golden.