1 or 2 heads of cabbage ( you will need 12-16 large leaves)
1 lb ground beef (80% lean or so)
2 cups cooked rice (cooked five minutes short of specified time)
1 cup onion, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
tomato soup (1 or 2 small cans)
or 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
fresh thyme leaves (several sprigs, 1 - 2 teaspoons)
Cut the core from the head of cabbage and wash well. Fill a large saucepan or pot (I use a 4 quart saucepot) with about 2 inches of water. Bring the water to a boil over medium heat. Add ½ teaspoon salt and the head of cabbage, core side down. Cover and cook for approximately 10 minutes or until the outer cabbage leaves are tender and flexible but not mushy.
Carefully remove the head of cabbage from the pot. Run under cold water until it can comfortably be handled. Gently separate the leaves. If you get to the point where the leaves are still crisp return the remaining portion to the boiling water to cook a little longer. Repeat until you have enough cooked leaves for the number of cabbage rolls you want to make (12 -16 large leaves). Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground beef, cooked rice, onion, egg, garlic powder, black pepper and salt. Mix thoroughly. (I reach in and use clean hands to squish the mixture together.)
If using the tomato sauce mixture instead of canned tomato soup, stir together the tomato sauce, lemon juice and minced garlic in a small bowl.
Prepare a baking dish by spraying it with nonstick cooking spray. (I use a 7 x 11 inch rectangular baking dish but this does not usually hold all of the rolls. Any baking dish can be used but cooking time may vary depending on how the rolls are arranged.) Cover the bottom of the dish with half of the tomato soup or tomato sauce mixture. Set the rest of the soup or sauce aside for the topping.