Maybe it’s because I am half German and my grandfather made the best cabbage rolls ever, but I love them.
This isn’t my grandfather’s recipe (unfortunately no one has that), but this is still very good.
Stuffed cabbage is one of the most famous Polish recipes, but in other countries in the area they are a staple as well.
Make it Healthier
Cabbage recipes are very healthy for you. Cabbage is one of the family of cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli, which is on our list of 10 healthiest foods to eat.
I don’t remember ketchup being anywhere near my grandfather’s recipe, but I think it would give the dish a nice tang.
To make this recipe even healthier I would leave out the ketchup in the rolls themselves. It cuts the sugar content, and I don’t think it is really needed in the cabbage roll stuffing.
Of course dill is a staple in Eastern European cuisine, so I am not surprised to find it here.
The tomato sauce is the perfect vehicle for cooking the cabbage rolls. It makes the cabbage nice and tender and adds fantastic flavor to the dish.
Stuffed cabbage does take time to make and isn’t a 30 minute meal by a long shot, but the results are worth it.
If you want you can double or triple the recipe and freeze the extra rolls for later. You will really enjoy the ease of being able to bring a ready made dinner out of the freezer on a busy day.
Note that the recipe says not to use very lean ground beef. That is because the juice from the beef will help cook the rice and the cabbage.
Cabbage Rolls Recipe
- 1 head savoy cabbage
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 pounds ground beef, not lean
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 1/2 tablespoons ketchup, optional
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2 - 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
- 1 cup long-grain rice
For the Sauce:
- 28 ounces canned tomatoes, peeled plum tomatoes, chopped (juice reserved)
- 14 ounces canned crushed tomatoes
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 onions, thinly sliced
- 1 lemon, grated zest and juice
- 1 - 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- fresh dill sprigs to garnish
- Freeze the cabbage 2 days ahead and thaw overnight to soften the leaves and make them easy to separate.
- If you want to make the recipe using raw unfrozen cabbage you will have to boil the leaves or the cored head of cabbage until the leaves are partially cooked.
- Core the cabbage and separate the leaves. You will need to remove and discard any heavy cores/spines from the leaves. To do this, using a small knife, gently slice the core end of the leaf so the thickness is the same as the rest of the cabbage leaf.
- Partially boil the rice until it is 1/2 cooked, about 8 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 325°F.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet and cook the onion for 3-5 minutes until it begins to soften. Stir in the garlic and remove from the heat to cool. In a large bowl, mix together, the beef, salt, pepper to taste, ketchup, eggs, dill, partially cooked rice and the onion/garlic mixture.
- Combine the sauce ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Simmer the tomato mixture for 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Place a cabbage leaf on the work surface, curled side up. Place 2 to 3 tablespoons of the meat mixture in the center of the leaf. Fold the core end of the leaf over the filling, then fold the sides in. Roll up the leaf to encase the filling. Repeat with the other leaves and the remaining meat mixture.
- Spoon a thin layer of the tomato sauce in the bottom of a large roasting pan. Arrange the rolled leaves in the roasting pan, seam side down. Spoon the sauce over each layer of the rolls. Add a little water if necessary, to just cover the stuffed cabbage.
- Bake, tightly covered, at 325°F for 90 minutes to 2 hours, basting occasionally, until the cabbage is perfectly tender.
- Transfer the cabbage rolls to a serving platter. Garnish with dill and serve with lots of sour cream. A simple salad and some fresh rye bread are all you need to turn this recipe into a real feast.