Stuffed Cabbage Leaves – Cooking with Winter Vegetables

My husband got me a really interesting new cookbook for Christmas called In Season: Cooking with Vegetables and Fruits by Sarah Raven. I don’t usually spend a lot of time thinking about ways to cook using vegetables that are in season; a better description of my style would be haphazard or erratic (and let’s face it, I don’t really spend a lot of time thinking about vegetables, period). But this is a beautiful book with a lot of great ideas.


For January and February cooking, the book recommends cabbages, chicories, citrus, evergreen herbs and winter salad greens. I decided to try a stuffed cabbage recipe.

rice onions turkey bacon and pork

Back in November, Edwin posted a quasi-Indian style vegetarian cabbage roll dish. This one is pretty different from that (the original recipe author is from Hungary). The recipe in the book called for a lot of things – bacon, ground beef, chopped mixed herbs and sauerkraut. It was my goal to pare it down a bit. I also tried to make it a little healthier, eliminating the bacon for turkey bacon and holding off on the ground beef completely.

cabbage rolls

This was my first dish from this book, and I was a little disappointed at the way the instructions are written. A few of the steps seem to leave a great deal to the imagination. For example, Edwin’s cabbage recipe calls for boiling the cabbage head until the leaves begin separating. My recipe didn’t mention anything about that, and so I found it very difficult to peel off the leaves in one piece. I probably pulled off about 6 large, fat leaves and the rest were moderately ripped and shredded in the process. Hopefully it was just a fluke for this recipe.

I think this turned out well and I will likely make it again. What do you put in your cabbage rolls?

cabbage rolls ready

Stuffed Cabbage Leaves
adapted from In Season: Cooking with Vegetables and Fruits
(yields about 20 rolls, total prep and cook time is approx. 1 1/2 hours)

1 cabbage
2 bay leaves
3/4 cup (6 ounces) turkey bacon, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon marjoram, thyme and dill
salt and pepper (dash)
1 pound ground pork
1/2 cup cooked long-grain white rice
1 egg, beaten
1 cups chicken broth

Preheat oven to 350F.

(I’ve inserted Edwin’s instructions here for peeling the leaves so that you don’t have the same problem I did) – Core the hard part of the cabbage (the stem mostly) from the base. Boil in a large pot of boiling, salted water. In about 5-10 minutes, when the leaves begin separating, remove from the pot. Let cool.

Remove the thickest part of the cabbage leaves to make them easier to roll.

Fry the turkey bacon in a shallow pan and set aside. In the same pan, add onion, garlic, marjoram, thyme, dill, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper on low heat so as not to burn it.

In a large skillet, combine raw pork, cooked rice, cooked turkey bacon and onion mixture. Add the beaten egg to bind the mixture and season with salt and pepper. Stir occassionally until cooked.

When cooked, place approximately two spoonfuls of the mixture on a cabbage leaf. Roll the leaf, starting from the stem and and tuck in the edges. Place the rolls, seam down, in a shallow baking or casserole dish. Pour brother over the leaves and add bay leaf and a dash of dill. Cook, covered, for approximately one hour.

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