In a large pot or Dutch oven like this one, boil plenty of water. Add cabbage and cook for 5 to 7 minutes until tender (cabbage will turn brighter in color.) Discard water and transfer cooked cabbage to a colander to drain.
Wipe empty pot and return to heat. Add 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil and heat on medium until shimmering but not smoking. Add onions and cook, stirring regularly, for 3 to 4 minutes then add garlic and ground beef (or turkey.) Break the meat apart using a wooden spoon. Raise heat to medium-high. Cook until meat is fully browned, stirring occasionally. Carefully drain any fat, and return to heat. Season with salt and pepper.
Now add cooked cabbage, cooked brown rice, chopped herbs, and spices. Season with salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
Add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil, then lower heat. Cover and let simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes.
Transfer to serving bowls and drizzle a bit more extra virgin olive oil. Enjoy!
Cook's Tip: For the brown rice, you need to use 1 ½ cups of already cooked brown rice. Consult your package instructions for raw amount and cooking instructions. Cook the brown rice in advance of using in this recipe.
Vegan Option: You can make a vegan version of this unstuffed cabbage recipe. Swap the meat out for 2 cups cooked chickpeas (canned chickpeas are fine here) and follow recipe as written!
Prepare Ahead Tip: If you want to get a head start on the unstuffed cabbage, you can work one night in advance. Prep and boil the cabbage, then drain well and store in tight-lid glass container. You can also brown the meat and cook your brown rice (according to package) refrigerate each in separate glass containers for one night.
Slow-Cooker Version: Making unstuffed cabbage rolls is the slow cooker can be even easier. You can throw in the cabbage pieces without boiling and you can use uncooked brown rice. Brown the ground beef according to the recipe with onions and garlic. Lightly oil the bottom of a large slow cooker. Add in cabbage pieces (uncooked), ground beef, ½ cup uncooked brown rice, herbs, spices, diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. Season with a little kosher salt and pepper. Add 2 ¼ cups water and stir everything together. Set the slow cooker on high for 3 to 4 hours or low for 6 to 7 hours.
Tips for Storing Leftovers: Refrigerate leftovers in shallow airtight glass containers for 3 days. You can also freeze leftovers in portions for use as needed. Thaw overnight in the fridge, heat stovetop over medium heat with a little more liquid added, stir regularly till warmed through.
Recommended for this Recipe: Private Reserve Greek extra virgin olive oil (from organically grown and processed Koroneiki olives.) And from our all-natural spice collection: ground allspice and ground cumin.