food matters monday – cabbage rolls

the recipe of the week is rolled cabbage chosen by Keely Marie. i did a little research and found out the wide variety of cabbage rolls are quite popular all over the world.
for my recipe, i decided to mix different versions and made my own one with pickled cabbage leaves (often used in Southeastern Europe), rice/vegetable mix and ginger flavor (recipe below).

bits and peaces about cabbage tools

a cabbage roll (also stuffed cabbage) is a dish consisting of cooked cabbage leaves wrapped around a variety of fillings. it is common to the ethnic cuisines of the Balkans, as well other parts of Europe such as finland (kaalikääryleet) and sweden (kåldolmar), russia (golubtsy) and the middle East (dolma).
in sweden on 30 november is even the day of the cabbage roll called “kåldolmens dag”, celebrating the death day of charles XII of sweden with the purpose stated by its initiators to hail the multifaceted swedish cultural heritage involving national symbols with immigrant background. it is arranged by “kåldolmens vänner” (friends of the cabbage roll).
in croatia stuffed cabbage is favourite dish at christmas. also in romanian stuffed cabbage rolls (sarmale) are traditionally served on christmas and new year’s eve and also served throughout the year at weddings, baptisms parties and other large celebrations.
in europe usually the cabbage rolls consist of meat (beef, lamb, or pork) seasoned with garlic, onion, and spices. also, common is a vegetarian version with rice, barley, eggs, mushrooms, and vegetables. in turkey vegetarian dolma consists of pickled grape leaves for wrapping and rice, olive oil, pinenuts, currants (or dried figs/cherries), herbs (fresh parsley, dill and mint) and spices (usually allspice, cinnamon and black pepper) for filling.
in asia for stuffed cabbage is used chinese cabbage with seafood, tofu and shitake.
in russia golubtsy is one of the comfort foods and for most of the soviet union children cabbage rolls bring back memories of mom or grandma and long, comforting meals in a warm russia, this dish appeared in the 18th century, at a time when french cooking was getting its first wave of maniacal followers in st. petersburg. the dish earned its name for the french practice of cooking pigeons wrapped in cabbage leaves – the russian word for a pigeon is “golub.”

cabbage rolls

for my recipe i decided to mix different versions and made my own one with pickled cabbage leaves (often used in southeastern europe), rice/vegetable mix and ginger flavour.

1 pickled cabbage head (from authentic Russian shop)
1 cup basmati rise
1 big carrot shredded
1 onion chopped
2 garlic gloves crushed
200 g champignons chopped
2 cm ginger chopped
1 can chopped tomatoes
6 bay leaves
salt, pepper
smoked paprika powder
chilli flakes

heat the fry pan with oil, add onions and cook for 3 min, add ginger and garlic and cook another 3min, add carrots, salt (be careful not too much, cabbage leaves are already salty), chilli flakes and cook until tender for about 4 – 5 minutes. Set aside.
heat fry pan with oil again, add mushrooms, salt, paper and cook about 6 minutes.

combine together cooked ingredients and rinsed rise and mix well.
Put a large 2 – 3 spoonful of the rice mixture into a cabbage leaf, taking care not to overfill it, and roll loosely. you’re shooting for 8 – 10 cabbage rolls, but if you have extra filling, use all of the leaves. Put the rolls seam side down in the bottom of a large heat resistant pot; it’s okay to stack them on top of each other in the pot.

add the tomatoes wit their juice and 1 cup of water on top of the wrapped cabbages, add bay leafs, cover the pot and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat so that the mixture barely bubbles and cook, undisturbed, for 30 minutes. check to see if there’s still liquid in the pot. The cabbage should be just submerged; if not, add a little water. Cover and cook for another 30 minutes before checking again.
When the rolls have plumped up and absorbed most of the liquid, and are firm, turn off the heat and let rest, still covered, for at least 10 minutes (or up to 20). serve with chopped spring onions.
click here to see what the other members of the project made this week!



  1. Keely Marie February 25, 2013 at 22:53

    LOVE LOVE LOVE your global info on cabbage rolls. SO interesting! Gorgeous photos. :)

  2. Lexi February 25, 2013 at 23:35

    I used brined grape leaves for mine but I have never heard of pickled cabbage other than Kim Chee. Very interesting!

  3. Aura February 26, 2013 at 02:07

    Oh my goodness–what a cool take on stuffed cabbage rolls! When I lived in Forest Hills, Queens, NY I lived near several great Bukharian Jewish shops and they had everything pickled one could dream of and more. This makes me miss that!

  4. Evi February 27, 2013 at 13:22

    Love the history behind the meal, so interesting! Your cabbage looks great, I’m so glad we’ve got some leftovers!

  5. sandra March 1, 2013 at 22:04

    Great insight into cabbage cuisine. I like your use of pickled cabbage (a favorite of my son’s). I should try it that way next time.

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