Happy National Meatball Day!!

In honor of National Meatball Day and with St. Patrick’s Day coming up, I’ve combined my love of meatballs and the simplicity of cabbage and voilà, my unstuffed cabbage dinner!

Making stuffed cabbage is a process. The leaves need to be boiled, then drained, then trimmed. The meat filling needs to be mixed. After that, the filling is rolled up into cabbage leaves one-by-one. Finally, it all needs to slowly cook. When you’re all done, you certainly feel like you’ve earned it… but there is an easier way.

The basic idea is to make a bed of cabbage, make the filling into meatballs, cover it all with sauce, and cook. It doesn’t get much easier than that!

Unstuffed Cabbage

1 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. each of garlic powder and onion powder
15 oz. tomato sauce (divided)
2 lb. ground turkey (or beef or chicken)
1 large egg
1/2 cup bread crumbs (I use gluten-free)
2 T. minced fresh parsley
1 head of green cabbage, cored and cut into strips
15 oz diced tomatoes (1 can)
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp sugar (optional – but this is my mom’s secret ingredient)
1/2 tsp. salt, or more to taste
1/4 tsp. black pepper, or more to taste
Crushed red pepper flakes (optional, to taste)


  1. Combine paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, ground cloves, salt, black pepper, and 1/4 of the can of tomato sauce at the bottom of a large bowl. Stir until well blended.
  2. Add the ground meat, egg, bread crumbs and fresh minced parsley.
  3. Mix with a fork or knead with clean hands until all ingredients are thoroughly blended and meat is evenly seasoned.
  4. Form into meatballs and place on a rimmed baking sheet on foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.
  5. While meatballs are baking, pour 1 cup of water into a large pot, bring to a boil. Place cabbage strips into the pot.
  6. Cover the pot. Steam cabbage over medium heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn’t burn.
  7. Pour remaining tomato sauce into a mixing bowl with the diced tomatoes, lemon juice, and sugar, if using. Stir until blended, then season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Uncover the cabbage and reduce heat to low. Place the meatballs in a single layer on the surface of the cabbage. Take care when adding them to the hot pot—don’t burn your arm!
  9. Pour the sauce over the meatballs.
  10. Cover pot and bring mixture to a simmer until the meatballs, cabbage and sauce hot and are thoroughly mixed.
  11. Serve meatballs on top of the soft-cooked cabbage. Garnish with more minced fresh parsley, if desired. Crushed red pepper flakes may be added for spice, according to taste.Enjoy and Happy Meatball Day!