Allow Me to Introduce You to the Runza.
Sometimes last year I felt like the only Cornhusker in the state of Tennessee… No-one else out there shared my love of Runzas! Or even knew what they were (until I made them for my roommate that is!)
Unless you hail from the Cornhusker state of Nebraska, you’re probably wondering what in the world a ‘Runza’ is too. I’ll phrase it this way: Runzas are to hamburgers as calzones are to pizza.
Allow me paint you a picture… imagine a soft, wheat bread encasing a piping hot mixture of sautéd onions, cabbage and lean, farm-fresh beef.
Moving away from Nebraska, the only place I’ve ever called home, showed me the true meaning of the phrase: “You don’t know what you have until it’s gone.” Kool-aid, Cornhusker football, prairie sunsets and of course the people conjured memories of my great state that played my heartstrings like a fiddle those months I lived in Nashville. Thankfully, I had a remedy! Comfort foods have a impeccable way of curing homesickness and Runzas for a Nebraskan are pure nostalgia on a plate.
I was born and raised on a cattle ranch and can attest to what they say about Nebraska having more cows than people. Lucky for us, that means an abundance of local beef! Beef is a great source of protein, zinc, and iron (just a few of the nutritional highlights). Combine that with homemade wheat bread, full of fiber and B vitamins, cabbage and onions and you have a nutrient-dense meal (and one that can be completely eaten with your hands!).
While the recipe for Runzas is completely from scratch, you can also save time buy buying frozen bread dough and pre-shredded cabbage.
One final tip for the full Nebraska experience; upon enjoying your Runzas, take a drive through the countryside, taking in the prairie sunset and giving the ‘two-finger wave’ to everyone you meet.
Recipe (for 10 Runzas):
Wheat bread dough:
- 1 cup warm water (just slightly warm to the touch)
- 3 TBSP. olive oil
- 1 TBSP. sugar
- 1 tsp. salt
- 3 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 pkg. instant yeast (2 1/4 tsp.)
- Dissolve sugar in warm water, then add yeast
- Mix in olive oil and salt
- Stir in flour, one cup at a time. By the final cup, dough should be firm and no longer sticky.
- Knead 5-10 minutes, then place in a greased bowl. Set aside (preferably in a warm place) while you make the Runza filling.
- 1 lb. lean ground beef
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 1 1/2 cup shredded cabbage
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. pepper
- Heat a large skillet on medium and brown ground beef until cooked completely (should be no pink).
- Drain and rinse beef in a colander (to further reduce fat content) and set aside.
- Return now empty skillet to heated stovetop, add onion, cabbage and 1/4 cup water.
- Bring mixture to a simmer and cook until cabbage and onion are softened and water has evaporated.
- Return beef to skillet, season mixture with salt and pepper.
- Set beef and cabbage mixture aside to cool.
Putting it together:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Divide bread dough in 10 equal pieces.
- Roll out dough pieces and equally top each with beef filling.
- Pull together the sides and pinch well to seal so no filling leaks out!
- Place Runzas seam-side down on a greased baking sheet.
- Bake 20 minutes (bread will be golden brown) and serve hot.
Nutritional Analysis for 1 Runza:
245 calories, 8g fat (2 g saturated fat, 0g trans fat), 34 mg cholesterol, 498 mg sodium, 28 g carbohydrates, 5 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 17 g protein