Kenyan Cabbage Casserole

So much of the food that we eat is just plain old, everyday food.  Spaghetti sauce, roll, grilled cheese sandwich.  Don’t get me wrong, there is something wonderful, and comforting, and familiar, and home about those foods, but they are still just ordinary.

But there are some foods that are just special, that are different. It might be the first dumplings I ever had when I was traveling in China or Whit’s ice cream from when I was in college.  Foods that, just thinking about it, just take me back to that time and that place. That even sitting here just make me smile.

And once in a while, you catch a taste of something that thought you would never have again and maybe weren’t even looking for.  I was fortunate enough to find that in this unassuming cabbage casserole recipe.  With that very first bite, it transported me back to Kenya, to my homestay in Nairobi.  To a place where I struggled and grew, and learned about a different way of life and a different way of eating.  I wasn’t looking for this recipe, but the moment I tasted it, I knew that I had found something special and precious and dear.

I am so happy that I get to share it with you.  I encourage you to make this meal to celebrate the feast day of St. Josephine Bakhita on February 8, as this extraordinary woman was originally from East Africa (the Sudan).

Kenyan Cabbage Casserole

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 60 minutes

Category: Liturgical Living, Allergy Friendly, Low Carb

Yield: 4 servings

Kenyan Cabbage Casserole

Enjoy this taste of Kenya. Serve with chapati or applesauce.


  • ½ lb ground meat (beef, turkey, or pork)
  • ½ yellow pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • ½ Tbsp dried minced onion
  • 16 oz tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup applesauce (no sugar added)
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • Dash salt and pepper
  • ¾ lb cabbage


  1. Thaw ground meat in the refrigerator overnight or in the microwave.
  2. Cut peppers according to directions (you can do this ahead of time and store them in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days).
  1. Heat the skillet over medium heat. Brown the meat (cook, stirring occasionally until no longer pink). While that is cooking, shred the cabbage (similar to how you would for coleslaw but it does not need to be as thin). When the meat is done, if there are a lot of drippings, drain most of it from the pan; if there are no drippings, add a little bit of oil.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375F. Add the peppers, garlic, and onion to the meat and saute (cook, stirring occasionally). While they are cooking, combine the remaining ingredients except the cabbage in a bowl. Once the peppers are softened, pour the mixture into the skillet and stir together, scraping up anything stuck to the bottom of the pan.
  3. Pour half the mixture into the casserole dish, layer on all of the cabbage, and add the rest of the meat mixture. Bake for 40 minutes.
  1. You could substitute beans for the meat for vegetarian dish, with extra garlic, salt, and pepper to pump up the flavor.
  2. You can substitute collard greens or kale for the cabbage.
  3. For extra Kenyan flair, use pieces of chapati to pick up the casserole with your fingers.

Kale & Kielbasa Soup Dinner

Kale and Kielbasa SoupWhen I made this hearty kielbasa and kale soup with potatoes and red beans, I made WAY too much, which turned out just perfect as it was even better as leftovers!  So, go ahead and make a double batch to have later in the week (but don’t freeze it – those potatoes will turn into watery nastiness).  I served this with hoecakes (fried cornmeal cakes), which were an adventure, but I recommend pairing this with regular cornbread.

Kale and Kielbasa Soup

Needs Fulfilled: Prep Ahead, Leftovers, Allergy Friendly, Low Carb
Serve With: Cornbread – I like this Old Fashioned Gluten Free Cornbread or Jiffy Cornbread Muffin Mix
Prep: 15 minutes Cook: 30 minutes Time to Table: 45 minutes
Needed Equipment: Saucepan
Serves: 6
-Cut the kielbasa and potatoes according to the directions (you can do this ahead of time and store the sausage for up to 3 days in a sealed container in the refrigerator and the potatoes covered in water in the refrigerator for up to 1 day).
  • 1 lb kielbasa, sliced
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 5 cups water
  • 3 potatoes, cubed (you can peel first if you prefer)
  • 15 oz red beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ Tbsp dried minced onion
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ bay leaf (or a small one)
  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed and chopped
  1. Heat the saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the kielbasa and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned a bit on the outside. Add in the garlic and cook for another minute.
  2. Add in the remaining ingredients except the kale. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes.
  3. Turn off the heat (or turn it very low if you have a gas stove) and leave the pot on the burner. Stir in the kale and let sit for 5-10 minutes until slightly wilted.
  • For a low-carb option, substitute 1 lb of turnips, peeled and cubed for the potatoes.You can cut them ahead of time according to the directions and store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • For a legume-free option, substitute 1 lb ground meat for the beans.Brown the ground meat with the sausage, then drain any excess fat after sautéing the garlic.
  • You can use other greens, including spinach, Swiss chard, mustard greens, or collard greens, in place of the kale if you prefer.
  • If you cannot find kielbasa that will work for your family, you can use the same amount of breakfast sausage or use this substitute recipe for 1 lb of breakfast sausage:
    • 1 lb ground pork
    • 1 tsp salt
    • ½ tsp dried parsley
    • ¼ tsp dried sage
    • ¼ tsp pepper
    • ¼ tsp dried thyme
    • ¼ tsp coriander
  1. Mix together in a bowl, then use as directed in the recipe.
Credits: This soup was inspired by a recipe in At My Grandmother’s Knee.