Nightshade-free Unrolled Cabbage Rolls

Nightshade-free Unrolled Cabbage Rolls (autoimmune paleo)

I was craving cabbage right after I started the autoimmune paleo protocol (to heal my leaky gut). Recently, I had come across an amazing-looking recipe for slow cooker "unrolled" cabbage rolls by Katie on Kitchen Stewardship, and wanted to make it, but obviously without the tomato sauce. 

The main reason that I embarked on my kitchen experiment to make a delicious No-Mato marinara sauce was so that I could use it in a cabbage roll recipe of some sort. Surprisingly, I never came across another cabbage roll recipe that suggested using a no-mato sauce while on the AIP -- the AIP-friendly recipes I found just omitted any sauce altogether. 

I did find one recipe on The Primalist that replaced the traditionally called-for rice with cauliflower rice, and I really liked that idea, so I included it in my recipe as well.

After reading many recipes, I decided that I definitely wanted to do an unrolled version, like Katie's. It's a lot of work to make actual cabbage rolls, and I didn't have a lot of extra time on my hands. My slow cooker was in use making a batch of beef bone broth at the time, so I had to opt for oven baking, and I found a conversion for making a slow cooker recipe in the oven. 

So, my recipe is a hybrid of the two linked here, plus with my own addition of AIP-friendly no-mato sauce. I know that it's not traditional to use an Italian-seasoned sauce on cabbage rolls, so please don't tell me this isn't an authentic recipe ;-)   It's delicious, and one I will be making again for sure!

Couple of notes:

  • If you aren't on the AIP and don't want to make a no-mato sauce, you can substitute your favorite tomato sauce instead.
  • If you don't use my no-mato sauce, you may want to add additional seasonings to the ground beef mixture. I didn't add anything except salt and pepper because the sauce is bursting with so much flavor!
  • Next time, I might experiment with browning the ground beef first. I think it would improve the texture and flavor of the final dish. But, using raw beef was just fine (and is great if you are in a rush to get a meal going).
  • You can make this recipe in the slow cooker -- just put it on low for about 8 hours.
  • Yes, I used green cabbage -- the beets in the no-mato sauce dyed the cabbage red :-)
  • Note about black pepper -- sometimes people get confused about whether or not ground black peppercorns are nightshades due to the name "pepper". Peppercorns belong to the family Piperaceae. All nightshades, including peppers like bell pepppers and chilies, belong to the family Solanaceae. You can have black (or white or pink) peppercorns on the AIP because they are NOT nightshades. 

Nightshade-free Unrolled Cabbage Rolls with "no-mato" sauce (autoimmune paleo)

Recipe by Amanda Torres @ The Curious Coconut

A nightshade-free, autoimmune paleo version of unrolled cabbage rolls with a "no-mato" sauce.

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 2 hours 30 min

Total time: 2 hours 40 min


  • 2 lbs grass-fed ground beef
  • 3 cups cauliflower "rice"
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 4-5 cups "no-mato" sauce (or your favorite tomato sauce/marinara sauce)
  • 1 large green cabbage head (mine weighed 3 lbs)

Cooking Directions

  1. First, you will need to make "no-mato" sauce. You can make it ahead if you like. It keeps in the fridge for several days and also freezes well.
  2. Preheat oven to 325F (or use a slow cooker set on low).
  3. Cut cauliflower into small chunks and use a food processor or blender to turn it into "snow" or "rice". This doesn't take very long -- several short pulses will do it. Be careful not to over-process.
  4. In a large bowl, mix together ground beef, cauliflower rice, onion, salt, and pepper so that it forms an even mixture.
  5. Slice cabbage into quarters and remove the tough inner core. Then, cut the cabbage into slices about half an inch thick. It doesn't have to be exact.
  6. Place a layer of sliced cabbage in the bottom of your ovenproof cooking vessel (I used a 5 quart pot with a tight-fitting lid). Add a layer of sauce, then a layer of beef mixture, then another layer of sauce. Repeat process until your pot is full. Try to end with a layer of cabbage with sauce on top.
  7. Cover pot and bake for 2 hours. Remove cover and bake an additional 30 minutes. If using a slow cooker, just let it go on low for about 8 hours, per Katie's recipe.
  8. This is a one-pot meal that does not need any sides! I used a knife and cut out pieces of this dish like you would cut a cake. You can also serve it from the top layer down, whichever you prefer. Enjoy!
  9. This recipe stores well for several days and is easy to reheat. Just put serving in a pot and heat it on the stovetop.

Recommended Tools and Ingredients

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