Beef and Cabbage Casserole

Let me preface this by saying, I’m typically not a fan of casseroles. But this one is actually good—and worth sharing. It doesn’t call for canned cream of mushroom or canned cream of chicken. And it’s neither overly salty nor low on flavor. It’s super simple and tasty, a lazy woman’s version of cabbage rolls.

I happened upon this recipe when we were on a grain-free diet last year. The kids liked it so much that they asked me to bring it back after our diet was over. Now, that tells you something. I also made it for my friend, R, and her kids. She tells me it has made its way into their weekday dinner rotation.

The recipe is adaptable, so you can include rice if you’d like, which is more like true cabbage rolls. Or, if you’re on a grain-free diet, like GAPS, Nourishing Traditions, or Paleo, just stick with the beef (I like to use ground bison) and cabbage. In either case, don’t leave out the cloves and cinnamon—it’s what makes the dish stand out. Serve with a salad or on its own. After all, your kids are getting plenty of vegetables from the cabbage.

This morning, as S was watching me pack leftovers in her lunch, she asked me, “Can I have a bigger piece of casserole?”

Happiness is your child asking for more cabbage.

Beef and Cabbage Casserole


1 lb. ground beef

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 – 3/4 tsp salt

15 oz. tomato sauce (I like the organic strained tomatoes that come in a tall glass jar from Bionaturae)

1/8 tsp. cinnamon

1/8 tsp. ground cloves

1/4 tsp. thyme

1/4 tsp. basil

4 to 5 cups cabbage, shredded


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Brown the ground beef in a large skillet with the onions and the garlic. Drain off the fat. Add the remaining ingredients except cabbage to the meat mixture and simmer for 10 minutes.

Put half of the cabbage into a 2-quart casserole dish, top with half the meat mixture, top with the remaining cabbage, and finally top the cabbage with the remaining meat mixture. (The casserole dish will be rather full, but that’s okay because it’ll all cook down.)

Cover the casserole with foil and bake for 45 minutes.

*** Note: If you want to include rice in the casserole, I suggest 1/2 cup of uncooked rice and 1 cup of water. Add it at the same time you’re adding the spices and tomato sauce. Then, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Continue with the recipe as follows.

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