Thursday, January 13, 2011

Stuffed Cabbage

One of the things that I love most about cooking is when I make a dish that spans generations. My mom, gmom, great grandmother, aunts, great aunts, and on and on have all made some variation of Stuffed Cabbage. No matter what exactly they put in the filling, they have all gone through the process of mixing, stuffing, and slow cooking this very traditional dish. I love feeling like I am doing something that has been done by the ladies that came before me and for some reason this dish makes me feel that way. Nostalgia notwithstanding, it is also totally delicious and will warm you up when you need it most. The ground meat gets very tender and is super juicy from the long cooking in sauce. The cabbage gets very soft and full of flavor while the veggies meld perfectly with the meat and juices. I love the sunflower seeds for crunch. I guess you figured that I sprinkle those seeds into everything because I have a big bag of them in my pantry. You can substitute another seed that you like. Lastly, this meal is so nice because it is a one pot meal. Veggies - check. Meat - check. Carbs - check. No need for sides. Just a nice cold beer and a fork!
Stuffed Cabbage
1 head cabbage
1 lb. ground meat
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
1 cup uncooked white rice
3 carrots
3 stalks celery
1 large onion
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
3 cups tomato sauce (I dump a large can of whole tomatoes into the blender and blend until smooth)
1/2 cup white wine
salt and pepper

1. Grate carrots using a box grater until they are all grated. Chop the onion, garlic, and celery finely.
2. Mix beef, carrots, onions, celery, garlic, rice, tomato paste, seeds, spices, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper in a large bowl with your hands until it is thoroughly combined.
3. Fill another large, heat-proof bowl with hot water and place the leave of cabbage in that bowl so that they are easier to roll up without breaking.
4. Stuff each leaf with about 1/4 cup of filling and roll up into little packages.
5. Pour about 1 cup tomato sauce and 1/2 cup white wine into a large dutch oven (or whatever you are using to cook the cabbages).
6. Arrange the stuffed cabbages snugly into the pot.
7. Cover them with the remaining sauce and 2 cups water.
8. Bake this in the oven at 350 degrees for about an hour and a half until the cabbage is tender. I set the pot on a large baking tray so that if there is any dripping, it won't make a mess of my oven. The filling will be delicious and the sauce will have darkened up. Serve the stuffed cabbages and enjoy.


  1. It was so funny to scroll through my Google Reader this morning and see this post! I just made stuffed cabbage earlier this week and all of my friends thought I was crazy. I use a mixture of beef and pork to give it some extra flavor--and boil the cabbage leaves before stuffing them to make it easier to roll.

    Maybe I'll have to try this variation with the seeds and carrots next time :)

  2. Thanks for a great step-by-step of your version of this timeless classic. No I don't have a bag of sunflower seeds in my pantry (shame on me?) but I don't think the end result won't miss them much. There's always pine nuts...

  3. Thanks! I really hope you like them. I'll have to try adding pork next time!

    I bought a big bag of sunflower seeds one day because they were on sale and I thought I'd be all healthy and snack on them. Turns out, I don't want to snack on plain, unsalted sunflower seeds. I prefer potato chips :) Now I throw them in lots of dishes to use them up. Pine nuts would be fantastic, which makes sense because they are pricier.