Small, simple recipe for cabbage rolls

I’ve never had cabbage rolls. My mother never made them when we were growing up. However, my husband was reminiscing about how he used to love them as a kid, one of his friend’s mother used to make them.

So…I have cabbage, I have ground chuck, I have rice (regular, not Minute rice). I have a can of tomato paste, and I can get other canned tomato products. Any suggestions for a beginner’s recipe that only makes about 2-4 servings? Also, what do I serve with cabbage rolls? It’s got a protein, a starch, and a non-starchy vegetable already. Squash, maybe? Cucumber salad?

One thing that helps is to parboil the cabbage leaves before you make the rolls. It makes them limp so that they’ll hold their shape.

Cook the meat with some onion before making the rolls. You will probably want to add some seasoning like black pepper and oregano. Mix the cooked meat with the cooked rice and spoon some of the mixture into each leaf, then roll it up. Put the rolls into a baking dish and pour tomato sauce (not paste) over the top. Cover and bake for maybe a half an hour, then remove the cover and bake for perhaps 15 minutes more.

I think a simple salad would go well with this dish.

Typically, the way my mother would do it is to place a head of cabbage in a big pot of boiling water, and then remove the leaves one by one as they soften (start checking at about 3 minutes or so.)

Will spaghetti sauce do for the tomato sauce? Because I’ve got that in my cupboard.

I peeled some leaves off of the cabbage before I read about boiling it. Oh well, recipes are never perfect the first time I make them.

A family favorite – my mother can guarantee a house full of family by announcing she is making haloupki.

I just asked her how she makes the sauce. She learned from her Russian-born mother, so this is the authentic ethnic family secret. The sauce is Campbell’s Tomato soup. If she doesn’t have enough soup she adds some plain tomato sauce and/or some ketchup. The seasoning in the stuffing mixture is salt and pepper.

Served with potatoes, mashed if she feels like it, or just chunks of boiled potato you mash on the plate with your fork and spoon some of the sauce over.

I’m going with no on the spaghetti sauce - mine’s a tomato based sauce but the orgegano and other spices in the spaghetti sauce wouldn’t work right. I use Tomato Sauce (like Hunt’s) with a little of the cabbage boiling water. Somtimes I add sour cream at the end - depends on whether the hubby wants it that way or not.

Me, too. If you try to peel off crisp raw leaves, they just crack or tear. Softened leaves also roll up around the filling better, too.

I like to use two cabbages so I’ll have plenty of the bigger leaves both for stuffing and for mistakes. The smaller leaves around the core are too small to stuff easily, so I save the cores for a later recipe.

I asked my mother for some more specifics.

The stuffing is ground beef, rice, onion, salt, pepper, and sometimes egg.

Her mother always used precooked rice so that is Mom’s standard method. She says some people use regular rice and don’t precook it, just mix it in with the meat but she doesn’t do it that way. Some people use uncooked Minute Rice.

She adds an egg “If the meat mixture feels a little dry. It helps bind it.”

Once it’s on the plate, sliced open with some juice spooned over, my family is split about 50/50 on whether or not to put ketchup on them. I do.

Keep it simple. It’s real food and it tastes good without a lot of jazzing up.

For future reference, Costco has excellent cabbage rolls. Four to a container. In the refrigerator section (not frozen).

Better than my mother’s.

My cousins make casseroles from the ingredients (cook the beef and onion, drain, layer with chopped cabbage, pour plain tomato sauce or tomato soup over ,cover, and bake a couple of hours.) Sometimes do the same in the crockpot. But that’s the lazy way!

I’ve never cooked the meat first
Mix it up with egg, and rice, salt and pepper (and I always add garlic but that is because I LOVE garlic)
I always used minute rice but real rice tastes better.

We always used tomato sauce to cook them in
My ex-MIL used tomato juice.
I’ve also done the shortcut method off browning the ground beef, adding chopped cabbage (and sometimes some onion) and tomato sauce, simmering until the cabbage is tender. Then I turn off the heat, make a well in the center, add minute rice and cover until the rice is done. If I was using real rice I’d just put hot rice on the plate and spoon the mix over the rice.

BTW, when heating the Costco cabbage rolls, I often add a bunch of chopped cabbage, as the sauce is soooo good, you just want more cabbage to sop it up with. I’ve also been known to add sauerkraut to it.

My husband is working graveyard shifts this week, with a team. They take turns bringing in dinner, because the only thing open in the middle of the night is Denny’s…and one of his co-workers brought in cabbage rolls last night! So I no longer Need Answer Fast.

I think that I’m going to try Costco’s brand, just to see how they are supposed to taste.

I appreciate all the ideas and suggestions, though.

I’ve always had cabbage rolls braised with sauerkraut, not a tomato-based sauce.

My mother who is Slovak also did not make them with tomato sauce. She just stacked cabbage rolls (cabbage leaf rolled around hamburger and rice-- not sure if these were cooked first, I’m thinking not) in a huge pot layered with sauerkraut. They were very good.

But the first time I tasted them with a sweet-ish (not Swedish) tomato sauce-- YUM!

Both ways are good.

When I was a kid, I wouldn’t eat the cabbage. I’d just unroll each leaf and eat the filling. But now I love the cabbage, too. And sauerkraut.

In our family, the basic method was to line the roaster with leftover cabbage leaves, placed the stuffed gołąbki in there, side by side, and braise it with a couple cups of broth. My mother would cook it covered for a while, then uncovered to get some nice browning action going. Sauce would generally be served on the side. There was a creamy mushroom sauce and a tomato sauce that were typical. Occasionally, she would braise them in a mix of tomato sauce and broth, and sometimes we’d all add the chopped leftover cabbage leaves into the braise. You can also mix the pan juices/braising liquid at the end with sour cream to form a sauce.

There’s a gazillion variations. The key for us would be to use rice that it a little bit undercooked (we cook it for like 10 minutes, IIRC), and we don’t cook the raw meat before stuffing. Also, lay the rolled cabbage rolls seam side down in your casserole.

But there’s a number of ingredients you can use to stuff these rolls. For your grain, you don’t have to use white rice. You can use brown rice, barley, buckwheat kasha, etc. For the other part of the filling, you can use pork, beef, chicken, sausage (smoked or fresh), ham, eggs, mushrooms, etc. And, as mentioned, you can also braise it with sauerkraut, if you wish. (Although I didn’t encounter that in my Polish family so much, but rather in the Hungarian version of this dish, töltött káposzta.)

I think my mother used a mixture of tomato sauce and diced tomatoes, and perhaps some diced green pepper. And the rolls were always served with mashed potatoes. As a child (and sometimes now), I was in the habit of mixing everything on the plate together. The cabbage rolls were perfect with the mashed potatoes.

You all will probably be appalled, but my husband, who loves cabbage rolls, was pining for some and I was also the product of a mother who never made them. But he said something that gave me pause: he said it was a shame that they were packaged in rolls since all he did was break them up immediately after serving.

So, and idea was born.

I now make what I call cabbage-roll casserole when I feel charitable and want to give him comfort food from his youth. It’s basically a cabbage-roll lasagna, with the leaves forming the noodle layer, and then I use the stuffing as the other layers. It’s pretty darn good.

And inspired! I am SO going to do this the next time Mr. I Want Food That Takes Forever To Make wants them! What a great idea!!

It’s either that or drive to Lake Zurich and get some at Ania’s. That sounds a whole heck of a lot easier. Sometimes it’s NOT a good thing he likes my cooking. :smiley:

My Polish friend showed me how her family makes them at some point last winter - I think I might still have a container left in my freezer. We ate them with nothing but good rye bread + butter.

My husband would like the filling, I think, but not the cabbage… I’ve been thinking of making a “Polish Shepard’s Pie” with the filling + sauce and mashed potatoes on top. Maybe when it gets colder I’ll give it a go.