Cabbage Rolls - Two Cultures by Pattie Sue Knapp
Click to enlarge - Stuffe cabbage rolls presented with tabouleh salad made with couscous.

Cabbage Rolls

Two Cultures

Growing up we feasted as children on Pigs in the Blanket an intriguing way to inspire young ones to eat cabbage no doubt. As we grew and became inspired as fledgling cooks we discovered the Danish stuffed and rolled Cabbage. When I married I discovered the Middle Eastern influence and the many versions of our childhood favorite. Below I offer the Danish American version I have adapted for stuffed and rolled cabbage and also a Persia inspired version of the same. Both are packed with flavor and subtle differences I hope you will enjoy.

Note: Sabzi Dolmeh is a difficult spice to locate. I found a friendly source at Penzey's Spices:

Preparation: 30 minutes preparation, 60 to 90 miunutes baking Life Experience Recipe
Makes about 30 cabbage rolls Pattie Sue Knapp
  • 1 pound each ground beef & pork
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • teaspoon basil
  • tablespoon mint
  • cup minced parsley
  • teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon salt and teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup uncooked rice
  • 1 head green cabbage
  • 1 lemon
  • Sour cream
  • 2 pounds ground beef or lamb
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 teaspoons Sabzi Dolmeh (contains leek, parsley, tarragon, cilantro,basil, mint)
  • 3 teaspoons ground tarragon
  • 1 small can tomato sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup par-cooked rice
  • 1 head green cabbage
  • 1 lemon
  • Sour cream
  1. As you can see the majority of ingredients are the same with subtle differences, but here the technique differs; the Danish American version calls for cooking the meat mixture raw in the cabbage while the Persian influenced is pre cooked and finished in the oven. The Danish American version can be finished on the stove top (steam cooking) or in the oven (dry heat cooking). Since the Persian inspired is pre cooked I have only completed it in the oven. Both steam and dry heat produce a good tasting cabbage.

    Click to enlarge - Cooking the meat and onions. Click to enlarge - Place cabbage in boiling water, remove leaves as they wilt and become soft.

  2. DANISH AMERICAN: In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except cabbage, tomato sauce, water and lemon, mix well. Core Cabbage and place in large pot of boiling water. Remove leaves as they wilt and become pliable and allow to drain. Place a generous amount of mixture on each leaf (leaf size determines amount of filling) fold stem end over and fold in sides, roll up and use tooth pick to secure if needed. Place seem (tooth pick) side down in a coverable roasting pan. Continue until all mixture is used. Depending on size of pan used you can place a second layer of rolls if needed.

    Click to enlarge - Place a generous amount of filling in each leaf and roll loosely. Click to enlarge - Place filled and rolled cabbage leaves in a baking dish.

  3. Squeeze the lemon on top of the rolls, combine the tomato sauce and water and pour over the rolls, cover with aluminum foil and bake in a 350 oven for 1 1/5 hrs or until rice is cooked. Remove from oven, place rolls on serving platter, thicken remaining sauce with corn starch and serve table side if desired. Garnish with lemon slices and dollops of sour cream
  4. ** This dish can be made on the stove top, use a heavy bottom pot, line the bottom with discarded pieces of cabbage. Place rolls seam side down in layers and add the lemon and tomato/water mixture. Cover tightly and simmer over a low flame until rice is tender. Test for doneness by carefully unrolling a top roll and test the rice.

    Click to enlarge - Arrange filled rolls in a bakiing dish and cover with the tpomato sauce mixture. Click to enlarge - Serve rolles with a slice of lemon and a side dish of your choice.

  5. PERSIAN INSPIRED: Place Sabzi Dolmeh in cheese cloth/a fine mesh sieve or large tea strainer and add warm water to cover. Let stand about 15 minutes, cook the rice to al dente and sit aside. Sautee onion and meat until cooked and onion is transparent. Drain and add Sabzi Dolmeh spice to mixture and stir and cook for 5 minutes. Drain the diced tomatoes reserving the liquid and add tomatoes to the meat mixture with the tomato paste and par cooked rice and cook an additional l2-3 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and remove from heat.
  6. Add cored cabbage to boiling water and remove outer leaves as they become loose, sitting aside to drain. Place a generous amount of meat mixture (depending on leaf size) and fold stem over and fold in sides and roll. Place seam side down in a coverable roasting pan; continue until all mixture is used. Combine the reserved liquid from the tomatoes with the can of tomato sauce and pour over the rolls. Add the water to cover the bottom of the roasting pan, cover with aluminum foil and place in 350 over for 45 minutes. Remove rolls and serve with lemon slices and sour cream,

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Latest revision done December 2005
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