Eastern European Food Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

How to Make Eastern European Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Origin: Eastern Europe 

Type: Side

Main Flavours: Ground meat, cabbage

Other Names: Töltött Káposzta (Hungary), Balandeliai (Lithuania), Sarmale (Romania), Holubky (Czechia), and Sarma (Serbia)

About Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Eastern European Stuffed Cabbage Rolls, known by its own name in almost every Eastern European country, are a delightful dish consisting of cabbage leaves wrapped around a flavourful filling, usually a mixture of ground meat and rice with savoury spices. The comforting rolls are typically served in a tangy tomato or sauerkraut sauce, resulting in a hearty side dish that is beloved across Eastern Europe.

What Zsófi Says About Stuffed Cabbage Rolls:

While researching stuffed cabbage rolls for my article about Eastern European food, in the matter of one minute, I came across five different versions of this dish. I found Töltött Káposzta (Hungarian), Balandeliai (Lithuanian), Sarmale (Romanian), Holubky (Czech), and Sarma (Serbian). And I am sure if I hadn’t found myself immediately overwhelmed by the various shapes stuffed cabbages come in, I would have more and more examples until it covered every inch of the Eastern European region. 

No matter where it’s from and what country’s name it bears, this dish will always consist of a base of ground meat and rice filling wrapped in cabbage leaves and cooked over sauerkraut or tomato sauce (or both as I have decided is superior). It is often made in huge batches, ones not fathomable even by the stomach, and after one meal where it is consumed fresh, it is frozen or given away to relatives. Somehow, and I know many share this opinion, stuffed cabbage rolls taste best the next day/next few days. 

This is a dish you would also often see at the dinner table on New Year’s Day or maybe even Christmas. Vegetarians may also enjoy it once they switch out the ground meat to other savoury fillings like soy mince or, as grandpa likes to make it for me, diced mushrooms.

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls Recipe

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls Ingredients

1 large cabbage head

500g of your chosen ground meat (or meat alternative)

1 cup of cooked rice

1 diced onion

2 minced cloves of garlic

1 teaspoon of paprika

1 can of chopped tomatoes

1 cup of broth (meat or vegetable)

2 tablespoons of olive oil 

Salt and pepper to taste

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls Instructions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Whilst you’re waiting, remove the core from the cabbage head and place the whole cabbage into the boiling water. Cook for 5-7 minutes, or until the outer leaves are tender. 

Remove the cabbage from the water and leave it to cool, then peel off the outer leaves. If necessary, trim the thick centre to make them easier to roll.

To make the filling, combine the meat (or meat replacement), rice, onion, garlic, paprika, salt and pepper.

To assemble the rolls, spoon a small amount of the filling onto the centre of each cabbage leaf and roll it up, tucking in the sides as you go.

Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Place the cabbage rolls seam-side down into the pan, and then cover them with the canned tomatoes and broth. Make sure all of the rolls are submerged in the liquid.

Bring to a simmer then reduce to a low heat, cover, and cook for 30-40 minutes or until cooked through.

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