The kids are back in school. The leaves are starting to change colour. Let’s face it – fall is in the air. Up until this point in my life summer has always been my busy season. And although we really did have a fall and eventful summer I am, for the first time, experiencing the hectic schedule of “back to school”. Our little one started kindergarten just last week and I’m already exhausted. With my husband and I working full time and our daughter only being in school half days it means a lot of running around to get her to and from where she needs to be. And then you throw in the extra fall activities like cheer leading and swimming lessons and our days and evenings are pretty jam packed.
I’m really doing my best to plan ahead, especially when it comes to meals. So far I’ve been doing really well with planning breakfasts and school snacks for our little kindergarten girl but I need to put a little more time into thinking ahead for evening family meals. I’ll admit I am horrible when it comes to “freezer” meals. You know what I mean – meals that you make up ahead of time, package up and place in the freezer until you need them? Why do I suck at that? Because I never, ever remember to take them out of the freezer ahead of time. It’s sort of the out of sight out of mind thing. But what I do love is cooking with my slow cooker.
Fall is the perfect time for using a slow cooker. Not only because it’s such a busy time of year but coming home to a ready made warm and tasty meal is a huge bonus. There are also so many options and amazing recipes to cook in the slow cooker that its easy to keep coming up with something new. If you are looking for some new recipes I recommend checking out the slow cooker recipes at Ricardo Cuisine. You’ll find everything from classic stew recipes to slow cooker cheesecake and everything in between.
When I spotted the Layered Cabbage “Rolls” recipe I knew immediately that would be the first one I try. in my family (and I’m sure many families) cabbage rolls are a staple at holiday meals. I can remember my mother and I spending hours upon hours stuffing and rolling cabbage rolls for Thanksgiving dinner and community potluck events. Although cabbage rolls aren’t particularity difficult to make they are a little time consuming. But this layered slow cooker version takes just minutes to prepare. There are a lot of variations on cabbage rolls out there. This recipe uses most of the ingredients that I would use to make the traditional cabbage rolls that I grew up on – cabbage, meat, rice and tomatoes.
The one ingredient in this recipe that was a bit of a variation from a classic cabbage roll was the addition of Toulouse Sausage (in addition to ground beef). If you aren’t familiar with it – Toulouse Sausage is a french sausage typically made of pork, garlic and red wine. Now depending on where you live you may or may not have trouble finding Toulouse Sausage. You may be able to find it at your local grocer but chances are if you do it will be in an actual sausage (as opposed to a package of sausage meat). If you cannot find Toulouse, which I couldn’t, then trying substituting it with a sweet and garlicy mild Italian sausage.
Assembling this dish is extremely easy and quick. You just layer your ingredients – meat, rice, cabbage and tomatoes, pour over a bit of chicken stock for added moisture and you are ready to turn on the slow cooker and walk away.
Cooking time for this dish is about 4 hours over low heat. And your house will smell amazing while it’s cooking!
Ok, so this slow cooker dish is easy to prepare and pretty affordable to make but the big question is how did it taste? It was really, really good. It tasted enough like a cabbage roll that you got the hint but the few subtle changes to this recipe – like the sausage, bit of mustard, oregano and the chicken broth changed it just enough that you didn’t feel like you were just eating a dish of deconstructed cabbage rolls.
This recipe will definitely be added to my fall and winter slow cooker menu. I actually cooked this up the night before we were going to eat it, put it in the fridge and then warmed it up in the slow cooker for dinner while we took our little one to her cheer class. I’m not ashamed to tell you that my husband and I devoured this when we got home (the little one got fed before her class). And there was plenty leftover for us to take for lunch today too.
You can find this recipe along with many more over on Ricardo Cuisine.
Disclosure: I did not receive any payment for posting this recipe, but I was offered a subscription to Ricardo magazine. All photos and opinions are my own.