Martha Stewart’s Healthy Turkey Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Martha Stewart's Stuffed Cabbage Rolls Recipe on

Today’s guest post for stuffed cabbage rolls comes from Brette Sember. Brette blogs over at MarthaAndMe, where she’s taken on a one-year commitment to follow the Martha Stewart ethos. I’ll let her share the rest of the story, because it’s really is a good one. Here’s Brette – please make her feel welcome and say hello in the comments!

Inspired by Martha Stewart Recipes & Crafts

About a year ago, I started my blog MarthaAndMe as part of a quest. I was facing 40 and even though I have a happy life with kids, husband, dogs and work I love, something was missing. Maybe it was a typical midlife crisis, but I was looking for something more – more exciting, more interesting, more engaging – to make the everyday rhythm of life a little less dull.

I’d been mulling this missing ingredient in my life when I ran into the Martha Stewart Living November 2008 magazine issue in the grocery store checkout line. The turkey on the front lured me in (glistening, golden and perfect, I could almost smell it), but the interior of the magazine got me hooked. Everything Martha presented was so beautiful, fulfilling, and full of life. And there were so many possibilities – table settings, handmade wreaths, amazing food, organized drawers. What would happen, I wondered, if I tried to do one Martha Stewart project every day? Could I have an elegant, pristine home that smelled of homemade bread and was free of clutter?

I committed to do one Martha project per day for an entire year. I don’t think I quite realized what an undertaking that was, but one year later I can tell you I’ve learned a lot, tried things I never imagined I could do, and had my share of failures. It’s been like apprenticing to an unfamiliar career, going to cooking school, opening a shop on Etsy, and hiring myself as a cleaning service. It has changed my life in many ways. I’ve learned so much about myself and have had my eyes opened to possibilities I didn’t know existed. I’ve come to appreciate the small things in life and have learned how to find small things I can do that make big differences in our lives.

A Delicious Stuffed Cabbage Recipe

One of the fascinating things I’ve learned is that while many (more than I ever would have predicted) of Martha’s recipes are duds, there are several that are true gems – some of which I would never have tried were it not for this project. One of the biggest ‘out on a limb’ recipe I loved is Martha’s stuffed cabbage rolls recipe (I was sure I was going to hate this!).

It’s actually her mother’s recipe. I watched Martha make this on her show last November and bravely tried it myself a few days later. I was shocked and stunned to find I loved it. It’s like a pasta dish, but without the pasta. The cabbage does not stink (cabbage really has a bad rap) and is instead tender and wonderful. I’ve made it a few times and have made some adjustments to the recipe so that it’s now become part of my own family treasures. I think you’ll love the combination of ground meat and rice, hidden inside tender cabbage leaves and covered with tomato sauce.

Martha Stewart's Healthy Turkey Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Polish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
This is the best stuffed cabbage rolls recipe you'll find. Rich and meaty, hearty and warm. One of the best Martha Stewart Recipes on the Internet.
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 large head of cabbage
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped (or 1 tsp of jarred minced garlic)
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1 pound ground turkey (you can substitute a mixture of ground beef and pork if you prefer)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
  • 2 celery stalks finely chopped
  • 1 green pepper, finely chopped
  • 4 cups tomato puree
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, plus more for garnish
  1. Remove the center core of the cabbage. Boil 2 quarts of the water in a stockpot that is not made of aluminum (aluminum will react with the cabbage, or so says Martha). Add the cabbage and cook for 2-3 minutes until the outer leaves are tender. Remove the outer leaves and continue cooking the rest, removing outer leaves and cooking the interior until all the leaves are cooked and removed. Reserve two cups of the cooking water.
  2. Cut away the bottom of the center vein on each leaf. Place 4 large outer leaves at the bottom of the stockpot.
  3. Melt the butter in a pan and add the onion and garlic, cooking until it is golden.
  4. Mix onion/garlic mixture in a bowl with ground meat, rice, salt, pepper, parsley, green pepper, and celery.
  5. Place 1/4 to 1/3 cup of the rice mixture on each cabbage leaf. To roll the leaves up, fold in the sides, then begin rolling from the bottom of the leaf, tucking the edge of the leaf under the finished roll. Place the rolled leaves in the stockpot and place the chopped apple on top.
  6. Mix tomatoes and reserved cabbage water in a bowl. Pour enough into the stockpot to almost cover the cabbage. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cover and simmer for 1 hour until the cabbage is tender. Add more reserved tomato/water mix while cabbage cooks if the level drops too far.
  7. Optional garnish: Mix sour cream with ¾ cup of the sauce from the stockpot. Return it to the pot and stir, being careful not to disturb the cabbage rolls. I’ve also discovered this is quite good with Parmesan cheese sprinkled on it. It fools me into thinking I’m eating pasta.
  8. Substitution note: Feel free to swap out a jar of spaghetti sauce for the pureed tomatoes. Martha will never know, and you might enjoy having the additional herbs and spices in your dish. I’ve made it both ways.


Other recipes you might enjoy:

  • Wanna-be PF Chang’s Lettuce Wraps
  • Colcannon Mashed Potatoes
  • River Cottage Corned Beef
  • The Best Garlic Mashed Potatoes Ever
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Comments from other ninjas:

    • steph says

      A friend of mine did a similar recipe using TVP seasoned with poultry seasoning – she said it was surprisingly good and almost tasted like turkey. Or maybe soy curls?

      They’re these things if you’ve never tried them:

    • steph says

      Here’s a recommendation from a comment below:

      “To make it vegetarian, I use mushrooms instead of meat and sometimes ground/chopped nuts. The sourcream garnish I think is a must, it is what makes the dish!”

      Sounds great!

  1. Brigitte says

    I don’t have much time to prepare meals, but this one looks easy enough and I plan on trying it. I’d never thought of combining these ingredients and agree, it’s going out on a limb, but with your success I’m inspired. :) Thanks for sharing!

    • steph says

      Me too – though I’ve had it cooked in ways that aren’t very good. In the hands of Martha (or Brette) I think that cabbage is a sure bet!

    • steph says

      Super easy! I made them in less time than it takes to make most other meals. A quick, easy, hearty and healthy meal. Can’t beat that with a stick.

  2. Frugal Kiwi says

    I love cabbage in a variety of ways, but have never made it stuffed. Sounds like a must try dish.
    .-= ———->Frugal Kiwi

  3. Jennifer Margulis says

    I’ve recently made stuffed cabbage and was surprised to find how yummy it was (my first reaction is always, stuffed cabbage? Eek). I’d like to make this recipe as well. The sticking point is the meat, as my one daughter is a diehard vegetarian and the other a want-to-be vegetarian. Is there a substitute for the turkey/ground beef that might actually work?

    • steph says

      Here’s a recommendation from a comment below:

      “To make it vegetarian, I use mushrooms instead of meat and sometimes ground/chopped nuts. The sourcream garnish I think is a must, it is what makes the dish!”

      Sounds like a good idea!

  4. Kerry Dexter says

    I’m thinking about something to go in place of meat, as well — lentils, maybe?
    black beans and corn perhaps?
    .-= ———->Kerry Dexter

    • steph says

      Here’s a recommendation from another commenter:

      “To make it vegetarian, I use mushrooms instead of meat and sometimes ground/chopped nuts. The sourcream garnish I think is a must, it is what makes the dish!”

      Sounds great!

  5. Meredith Resnick - The Writer's [Inner] Journey says

    This sounds good. I’m imagining I could prepare this with a meatless ground.
    .-= ———->Meredith Resnick – The Writer’s [Inner] Journey

    • steph says

      Absolutely – a friend of mine did a similar recipe using TVP seasoned with poultry seasoning. She loved it! Or soy curls would work really, really well.

    • steph says

      Here’s a recommendation from another comment below:

      “To make it vegetarian, I use mushrooms instead of meat and sometimes ground/chopped nuts. The sourcream garnish I think is a must, it is what makes the dish!”

      Sounds great!

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  7. Muse in the Kitchen says

    I’ve always been a fan of stuffed cabbage (although usually I prefer more cabbage than stuffing!). This looks delicious! ~ Belle
    .-= ———->Muse in the Kitchen

  8. Lumi says

    I am Romanian and this is a traditional dish for me. Very yummy! My mom’s recipe is slightly different. She uses 2 onions, she says it will make it taste better and sweeter and adds fresh parsley and thyme to the meat mixture. I also bake this dish in dutch oven pot on low heat for 2-3 hours.
    To make it vegetarian, I use mushrooms instead of meat and sometimes ground/chopped nuts. The sourcream garnish I think is a must, it is what makes the dish!

  9. Ursula says

    I’m in Sydney at the moment, and my mum is an incredible cook. One of her best recipes is stuffed cabbage, with meat, garlic and rice. So delicious.
    .-= ———->Ursula

  10. MarthaAndMe says

    Thanks everyone for reading and for commenting on this. Sorry I’m so late to post!!! I really appreciate it though. And I agree this could definitely be meatless without a lot of trouble. If it were me, I would use mushrooms.

  11. N Fader says

    My family makes Cabbage rolls every Christmas. Instead of cooking the cabbage we put the whole head of cabbage in the freezer for a few days then let it thaw. The leaves come out nice and soft with no tears. Best of all no burnt fingers!

  12. Hanna says

    I sorta wandered in here off the street,so this is not so much about cabbage rolls…

    I LOVE Martha. And I love her because her magazines are very much what I think a real woman’s magazines should be. It sounds like that is what drew you in too. No articles on how I am too fat (with a recipe for chocolate cake on the next page), or garbage like that. They are magazines filled with how to use “womanly” arts to create and make the world beautiful, be it through cooking, collecting, crafting or cleaning. Glad to see someone else who got that vibe from her magazine too. :)


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