Friday, June 19, 2009

Penny Smart Meals - Cabbage Taco?


…….There is no end to the creative ideas we can come up with for cooking a meal. Cooking is one of those areas that we can be creative and have fun doing it.

........One of my friends called and asked if I could show his wife how to cook meatloaf. I told them to come on over and we would get right to it.

........During our time together, his wife told me that my friend was on a diet to lose weight and had been eating a lot of cabbage. It was some kind of cabbage diet. Never heard of it before but they had run out of ideas on how to prepare it. After some thought I came up with a suggestion.

........My wife had made some cole slaw and we wound up with an extra head of cabbage in the refrigerator.

........I looked around in the refrigerator and was satisfied we had what we needed to go ahead with my idea. All I needed was some cheese, ground beef, tomatoes and a few other things. So, while we were waiting for the meatloaf to cook we made this cabbage dish.

…….It was nothing more than a taco made with cabbage leaves as a replacement for the taco shell. That's it!

........Sounds simple doesn't it. I made several of them and had her give them to him as they were being made. He was eating them as fast as I could make them. I tried several variations and they were all made from what was in the refrigerator or in the pantry.

.........Before I go any further I have to explain the cabbage was not raw. I cooked it, and when the cabbage leaf was cooked I wrapped it around the fixings and served it up.

........Oh, and by the way, cabbage when it is cooked sweetens in flavor.

Here is the way I did it:

1 Small head of cabbage

Shredded cheddar cheese

Sour cream

Cooked Ground Beef

Chopped tomato

Chopped Olives

Shredded lettuce

Refried beans

…….The way to cook the cabbage leaf is the most important part. I would not recommend cooking the whole cabbage. It would be difficult to peel the leaves off the head if you did this.

…….I have long been a fan of steaming vegetables and other foods as a way of preparing the food as well as a way to revive leftovers. A good example of steaming food is to take some rice that you have in the “fridge” from the night before and steam it. Steaming brings the tenderness back and is a good way to revive it so you can re-use it for a meal.

…….You probably don’t have a steamer but you more than likely have what you need. A colander, a large pot and a lid for the pot.

…….A metal colander (or strainer) that you use for draining spaghetti is the perfect tool for this. Put this into a large pot with a little water and get the water boiling. Make sure the strainer fits into the pot. You don’t need a whole lot of water. In fact you want to use a small amount in the pot to get the steaming action going. Just add more when it steams off. Be careful not to run out of water. You don’t want to burn the pot.

…….The lid you put over the strainer captures the steam produced from the boiling water and the food you place in the strainer will be steamed, and cooked.

…….Steaming vegetables, this way is a good way to prepare them. It locks in the flavor and keeps in all those good vitamins we all need.

…….Get the homemade steamer going by boiling the water and place a few leaves from the cabbage head in the strainer. Make sure you keep the lid on while the steam is doing its job. Periodically check the cabbage leaf by poking a fork into the stem, or hardest part of the leaf. When the stem of the cabbage leaf gets soft, enough to bite into, it’s done. I don’t know if you like your food chewy, crunchy or soft so you have to decide. Its your preference. (I like my food to be easy to bite into and chew.)

…….When the leaf is soft remove it from the strainer and place it on a dish. Use some tongs or a fork. Let the leaves cool down enough to touch. Put some more leaves into the steamer and let them cook. While the steamer is cooking start making your cabbage wraps.

…….You can put whatever you like in this. If you noticed, the items on the recipe list are the same you would include in a taco. The choice is yours to make. The neat thing about this is the wrapping. We are using cabbage leafs instead of a taco shell. I was able to take many things I had in the refrigerator and add them to the cabbage wrap.

…….I think you get the idea. These are fun to make and you can try different ingredients and spices to make them different. Serve them up with whatever you serve tacos with and enjoy.

…….The next time I cook this dish up I’ll take some pictures with my cell phone and post the steaming process. I hope this helps.

……..What kind of inexpensive meals (quick and easy) have you enjoyed that others might enjoy eating while saving some money?

Leave a comment or If you prefer you can email me at

Tell me your idea for a meal you created. Let's help each other with money saving meals.

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Rose said...

how much meat do you use with this? i dont know if this would really be cheaper than using shells unless you already had the cabbage (in your case).

Russ Rock said...

Hello Rose, Thank you for your question. The amount of meat is based on what you can afford. The price of cabbage runs about 20 to 40 cents a pound (depending on the market). You can get many "shells" from a head of cabbage which weighs about 3-4lbs each. (more than a pack of store bought taco shells) for the same price. Another nice thing about this idea is it gives an alternative to using taco shells which some can not do due to wheat intolerance. What a nice looking family Have fun with that baby! What a blessing they are.

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