Monday, September 6, 2010

My Cabbage Rolls - Golabki

Growing up, cabbage rolls were always a treat I loved. Such a delicious combination of food, and the smell of them cooking brings back memories. Yes, they are actually a Polish dish, so I'm not quite sure how my great grandmother (who was Irish!) came to make them and pass the tradition down. I took my mom's verbal recipe, read a few authentic Polish recipes and one by Emeril even, and came up with my own version. Thad swore it's the best he's ever had (yes, said in the presence of my Mom and Aunt whose cabbage rolls he's had!). It is not really a difficult recipe, just time consuming. The rewards are worth it! This batch also makes plenty for leftovers (you will want them!).

Cabbage Rolls
  • 2 heads savoy cabbage (this is a darker green, leafier cabbage than a typical white cabbage - trust me and my ruined mush of regular cabbage and a quick trip to the store that THIS is the type you must find)
  • 2 lbs grass fed ground beef
  • 1 large can stewed tomatoes
  • 1 regular can diced tomatoes
  • 1 large yellow onion (I used a vidalia)
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh parsley (I used italian flat leaf)
  • 1 small, or 1/2 regular green pepper - chopped tiny
  • 1 orange or yellow pepper sliced in thin rings (I used one from the farmers' market that was long and skinny so it gave many small rings and great flavor!)
  • 1 regular green pepper sliced in thin rings
  • 2 cups long grain white rice
  • 1 cup long grain brown rice (I use some from the bulk bins at Whole Foods, I do not recommend using a short grain brown rice or any instant variety)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons fresh pressed garlic (about 4-5 cloves)
  • Fresh ground pepper, salt, paprika dried thyme, onion salt to taste
  • 2 eggs (could use 1 depending on size, mine were not large)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Large Lasagna pan, Large pot, Large Skillet, Large Mixing Bowl, 1/4 cup & 1/2 cup measuring cups
Makes: 18 cabbage rolls. Serving Size = 2 per person


1.       Cook your white and brown rice (separately)

2.       Boil a large pot of salted water.  Peel off outer layers on both heads of cabbage, chop off as much of core as you can. Once water is boiling, carefully place one head into the water. Using tongs, begin peeling off leaves from the head. They will soften quite quickly, just a couple minutes. Start pulling them out of the water and place on a surface to cool completely. I use a couple large cutting boards, but you could easily roll out some waxed paper to place them on too. As you pull off more leaves you may need to cut into the cabbage near what is left of the core so the smaller leaves can peel off as well. When the leaves started getting too small I pulled the rest of the head of cabbage out of the water and put the 2nd one in, repeated the process.  Let the cabbage leaves cool.

NOTE:  while you will not be needing the small leaves to make the cabbage rolls, they are delicious if you fry them up in some butter with salt and pepper. Not so healthy but I knew someone would love them and I didn’t want the rest of the cabbage to go to waste.

3.       Finely chop up the fresh parsley, measure and put in the large mixing bowl. Finely chop up some green pepper (small one or ½ regular one) and put in large bowl as well. Set aside

4.       Press about 2 ½ teaspoons of garlic (this was about 4 or 5 cloves).

5.       Peel onion, cut in half.  Dice half of it and set the other half aside.

6.       In large skillet, heat up 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium-high heat. Add the diced onion and pressed garlic. Add salt and pepper. Cook about 4 minutes until onion is translucent. Remove from pan and add into the large bowl.

7.       Brown the ground beef in the large skillet. As it is cooking add in salt and ground pepper and sprinkle paprika. I don’t know the exact amount of paprika but I sprinkle it around the whole pan. Drain any fat. Note: grass fed beef cooks faster. Remove from heat and using a slotted spoon to drain any more fat away, spoon ground beef into the large bowl.

8.       Measure 2 cups cooked long grain white rice and 1 cup cooked long grain brown rice into the large bowl.

9.       Add two eggs into the large bowl. Mix very thoroughly to combine everything. At this point you want to be sure to taste it and see if it needs more salt, pepper or paprika as this is what is the most flavorful part of the dish.

10.   Now you’re ready to roll your cabbage rolls! Have your lasagna pan nearby to put the rolls in as they are done. Open up a leaf, trim off any part at the bottom that this thick/hard. Put ½ cup of the mixture in the middle, then roll up by folding in the sides and then rolling and tucking in, similar to a burrito. Place in pan. Continue, picking out the biggest leaves first. My pan held 18 rolls, depending on the size of your pan, you may need to use a couple, or use a deeper pan and layer them.

11.   Pour ¼ cup water over the cabbage rolls.

12.   Slice the green pepper and red/orange pepper into thin rings and distribute across the top of the cabbage rolls. Slice the remaining ½ of your onion into half-rings and distribute across the top as well. I then sprinkled a little bit more salt and pepper across the top of everything.

13.   Cover pan with foil and bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 30 minutes.

14.   After 30 minutes, remove from oven and add both cans of tomatoes to pan. Sprinkle dried thyme and garlic salt across the top of the tomatoes. Put foil back on and return to oven for another 30 minutes. Then remove foil and put back in oven for another 10 minutes.

15.   Take out, let sit a few minutes, then serve 2 rolls on each plate, make sure you get tomatoes, pepper and a bit of juice with each one. I served these with oven roasted red potatoes, but they’re great with mashed potatoes too!



  1. Sounds delicious. I am going to give this a try - I've never actually made cabbage rolls before!

  2. Wow, looks awesome! I will make this with crumbled seasoned tofu or veggie ground round!