Deconstructed “Cabbage” Rolls

“Works of architecture refuse to fit into the pregiven context without speaking up. They stand up to that context and hold their ground. In that sense, works of architecture may be considered rebellious buildings.” (Karston Harries, The Ethical Function of Architecture, 281)

I bought a house (yay!). A really cute, old house (also yay!). Unfortunately, the previous owners had a Fisher Price approach to home renovation and repair (not so yay…). So lately, my headaches have been sourced by back and forth with real estate agents, the seller’s relatives carrying hammers, and the phrase, “no, don’t do that!”

I’m doing my best to keep my eye on the finish line because whether it seems weird or not, I believe this house deserves better. It was built sometime in the 1950s, where for years it nestled families and children and lives and memories. Someone has done their best to put lipstick on the old girl (literally…they only painted the front of the house), but this house is standing “rebellious” as one rooted in history but asking to be allowed to be present and preserved for the future.

I can’t help looking at this house and standing in its shabbily slapped together ‘90s kitchen renovation (where at some point the electrical panel ended up inside a kitchen cabinet…inside, y’all) and thinking about the meals I’ll get to make there and the cakes and breads that will rise up there. And honestly, that’s the most exciting thing about this whole home buying thing. Otherwise, it’s just paperwork and home inspectors and pipes bursting and I’ll just live in an apartment forever, thank you.

This super easy weeknight dinner was inspired a) by a delicious meal at a friend’s house and b) the fact that Trader Joe’s doesn’t sell whole heads of cabbage (or else I just couldn’t find it).

Yield: 4 servings


  • Olive oil
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 small onion or ½ large onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 4 cups brussel sprouts, halved
  • 1 lb ground beef (I used lean ground beef with 4% fat)
  • 1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 2 TB Italian spice blend*
  • Kosher salt and pepper, to taste

*I used a Venetian spice blend from a local spice company called Red Stick Spice. Substitute for 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp dried oregano, 1 tsp dried basil, 1 tsp fennel, and 1 TB parmesan cheese.

Recipe card:

  1. Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Sauté carrots, onion, and celery until the onion is translucent. Empty in a glass bowl and set aside.
  2. Add a little more olive oil to the pan and allow to return to heat. Add the halved brussel sprouts and sauté until soft. Empty into the bowl with the mirepoix mix.
  3. Add the ground meat into the pan and add the spices as well as the salt and pepper, to taste. Brown until almost all the pink is gone in the meat. Add back in the mirepoix along with the brussel sprouts and stir until well-combined.
  4. When the meat is finished browning, turn the heat down to low, and add the tomato sauce. Start with half a can, mix into the meat and vegetable mixture, and then add more to taste. Simmer on low for 5 minutes.
  5. Serve with fresh or shredded mozzarella.

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