This Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls Casserole is made with delicious beef rice filling and tender melt in your mouth cabbage leaves.
Option 1: Core the cabbage and place it into a deep microwave safe bowl, then cover with plastic wrap so it's not touching the cabbage. Microwave for about 8-10 minutes or until the cabbage is soft* and you can separate the leaves.
Option 2: Alternatively, fill a 6-8 quart pot with water halfway, bring to a boil. Place the cabbage with the core removed and boil, rotating the cabbage until you're able to remove the leaves off, one by one.
Set aside to cool.
Separate the cabbage leaves and divide them into 4 equal amounts.
Combine rice and water in a sauce pot and cover with a lid. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cook for about 5-7 minutes or until all water is evaporated. Watch it closely so it does not burn at the bottom. Fluff the rice and set aside to cool.
Heat 3-4 tablespoons of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until golden in color and translucent, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Add carrots, turn heat to low and cook covered, stirring often for about 5-8 minutes. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl mix together parboiled rice, sauteed vegetables, ground meat, and the seasoning until thoroughly mixed. Add pureed tomatoes and mix again.
Spray the baking dish with nonstick spray or lightly oil it.
Line the bottom of the baking dish with 1/4 of the cabbage leaves. Spread 1/3 of the cabbage rolls stuffing into an even layer. Continue layering the cabbage leaves and stuffing in this manner, finishing with the leaves on top.
Cut the layered casserole into 3"x3" squares and pour the seasoned broth over them. Shake the baking dish slightly to allow the liquid to reach between each square. Cover with foil. Place the glass baking dish onto a bigger sheet pan, which would catch if there's any overflow when it bakes.
Bake in a preheated to 450F oven for 30 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 325F and cook for another 1 to 2 hours.
Remove foil and transfer to the table. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with sour cream.
*If making the casserole with a large cabbage, microwave the cabbage head for about 7 minutes, remove the outer leaves, then continue microwaving until the rest of the cabbage is soft.