Stuffed Cabbage Leaves Ronit Penso

Stuffed Cabbage Leaves

Stuffed Cabbage Leaves Ronit PensoThere are so many recipes for stuffed cabbage leaves, from all over the world, each is special and tasty, and it’s hard to choose between them all.

So I’ve decided there’s no reason to choose one, but combine them. The recipe here is a result of cooking Turkish, Armenian, Sephardic, Polish and Russian recipes. I’ve kept flavors and techniques that I liked from each and added some of my own. So far, this is my go-to recipe when it comes to stuffed cabbage with meat. A vegetarian version is on the works as well.

The dish takes a while to make, but the reward is such tasty bundles of soft cabbage with a juicy meat center and caramelized top, and a sweet and sour flavor layer from the cooked plumped plums, no doubt it is worth the effort. Once you make them, you can start creating your own version.

* As you can see from the photos, I prefer to make small bundles, with only half of a large cabbage leave and fold it only once. You can choose to use the whole leaf, and end up with more cabbage in the roll.

* Whenever ground meat is required in a dish, I recommend buying a piece of meat and grinding it, or chopping it in a food processor, at home. This way you ensure the quality of your meat and therefore the flavor of your dish.

* The filling can also be used to fill other vegetables, such as peppers and tomatoes. * Leftover filling can be rolled into small meatballs and cooked in tomato sauce for 30 minutes.

Makes: 30 small
Freezing/defrosting the cabbage: 1 day ahead
Prep time: 1 hour
Cooking time: 30 minutes + 2 hours baking
Ingredients:
30 prepared leaves (from 1 large cabbage head, see below for instructions)
For the filling:
1.5 lbs (700 grams) beef chuck, ground
1 large onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
3 celery sticks, chopped
¼ cup rice (I prefer Basmati)
1 Tbs salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp date syrup (or pomegranate syrup, honey or brown sugar)
1 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs tomato paste
1 Tbs sweet paprika
½ tsp garlic powder
1 Tbs sumac
½ tsp five spice mix
For the sauce:
¼ cup tomato paste
1 Tbs salt
½ tbs freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp date syrup (or pomegranate syrup, honey or brown sugar)
1 Tbs tamarind paste
4 cups beef stock (preferably homemade)
10 dried yellow plums, or apricots

1. Prepare the cabbage: core the cabbage base, wrap in plastic bag and place in the freezer overnight. Take out of the freezer and bring to room temperature. Once the cabbage thaws, the leaves will look “cooked” and soft. Separate them carefully. Line the pot bottom with a few of the outer ones. Place the rest on a cutting board and remove the tough center, so that you’ll get 2 separate parts of cabbage leaves to fill.
Stuffed Cabbage Leaves Ronit PensoStuffed Cabbage Leaves Ronit Penso
2. The filling: mix all the ingredients in a large bowl. Let sit for half an hour.
Stuffed Cabbage Leaves Ronit PensoStuffed Cabbage Leaves Ronit PensoStuffed Cabbage Leaves Ronit Penso. Stuffed Cabbage Leaves Ronit Penso
3. The sauce: in a bowl, mix the tomato paste with the salt, pepper, date syrup and tamarind paste. Gradually whisk in the stock, to a smooth sauce.
Stuffed Cabbage Leaves Ronit PensoStuffed Cabbage Leaves Ronit Penso
4. Filling the leaves: place one prepared cabbage leaf on a cutting board, with the cut side up. Add about 2 tbs of the filling, shaped by hand to an oval meatball, near the edge of the leaf. Fold both sides in, and roll tight. Place in the pot. Repeat with the rest of the leaves, tucking them together them tightly.
Stuffed Cabbage Leaves Ronit PensoStuffed Cabbage Leaves Ronit PensoStuffed Cabbage Leaves Ronit PensoStuffed Cabbage Leaves Ronit PensoStuffed Cabbage Leaves Ronit PensoStuffed Cabbage Leaves Ronit Penso
5. Cooking: add the dried plums or apricots on top and place a large heat proof plate on top, to prevent the stuffed leaves from moving while cooking. Add the sauce and cover the pot.
Stuffed Cabbage Leaves Ronit PensoStuffed Cabbage Leaves Ronit Penso
6. Bring to a boil, over a medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook for 30 minutes. Taste the sauce and adjust seasoning, if needed. Preheat the oven to 250F (120C). Place the covered pot in and bake for an hour. Carefully, uncover the pot and remove the plate.
Stuffed Cabbage Leaves Ronit PensoStuffed Cabbage Leaves Ronit Penso
7. Place back in the oven and bake for another hour, or until most of the sauce is absorbed and the top layer caramelized. Let sit for 15 minutes at room temperature before carefully removing the bundles. The stuffed rolls can be kept, in an airtight container in the fridge, for up to a week.
Stuffed Cabbage Leaves Ronit PensoStuffed Cabbage Leaves Ronit Penso
Stuffed Cabbage Leaves Ronit Penso

54 thoughts on “Stuffed Cabbage Leaves

  1. judilyn says:

    What a nifty trick about freezing the cabbage! A few times my cabbage has been shoved to the back of the refrigerator and become frozen. I never thought to use the limp leaves in this manner. Thanks for the inadvertent tip! ;-> I have about a third of one left from carrot/cabbage slaw from a recent luncheon, so will give this trick a try. Many thanks.

    Virtual hugs,

    Judie

    Like

  2. itstartedinoxford says:

    They look amazing! I’m living in Georgia and ‘tolma’ is a popular dish here. I recently tried to make it but over-stuffed and ended up with more of a beef soup but it tasted okay. I’ll heed your advice and make smaller bundles next time – well done!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yana says:

    I LOVE the sound of your version of the stuffed cabbage leaves! Addition of sumac, soy sauce and five spice mix to the filling sounds intriguing, I look forward to trying it next time :)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. DianaL says:

    Great step by step tutorial! My grandmother passed before I could get her to teach me how to make these and I’ve always found them intimidating not knowing the process. Yours looks exactly like I remember from childhood. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. platedujour says:

    This is one of the best dishes ever- I have a recipe on my blog too. Huge part of my childhood and my family life- we love stuffed cabbage at home, my mom makes it so often, so do I and so my sister. Wonderful recipe Ronit, and thank you for posting it xx

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Touch2Touch says:

    So much work! But so delicious! I’m torn.
    My mother made stuffed cabbage, strictly Polish (sweet more than sour), so not multi-ethnic. But still ethnic. I loved it! Maybe with the trick of freezing the cabbage, I might consider trying? You might consider coming here and cooking it for me?
    Nah, I didn’t think so!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Life Diet Health says:

    Ronit this looks like something my husband would love :) I actually made vegetarian dolma this week (yet to post) but due to the hassle with cabbage leaves I used vegetables… your freezer trick is great! :) I wish I had a cabbage just to try that out! Many Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

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