Embrace the North and last months of winter with cabbage rolls!
While no one ever accused cabbage of being the most exciting vegetable, it is used in numerous ways, reflecting many cultures throughout the Northern hemisphere where, historically, storage crops like cabbage play an important roll in winter diets.
There are probably as many recipes for cabbage rolls as there are grandmas, and they all vary in terms of flavor profile, filling and size. Eastern European cabbage rolls are typically fist-sized rolls filled with ground meat, rice and herbs and served in a tomato sauce with sour cream, like the recipe that follows.
In northern Africa, however, cabbage rolls are typically vegetarian and rolled into skinny cigars. Seafood, mushrooms and tofu wrapped in pickled cabbage leaves is popular in northern Asia. And in Scandinavia you will even see cabbage rolls served with lingonberry jam!
You can find cabbage, pasture-raised meat and artisan pickled vegetables and cheeses to serve alongside this winter classic at the Mill City Farmers Market’s indoor winter market, 10 a.m.–1 p.m. Feb. 10.
Find more information at millcityfarmersmarket.org.
Cabbage rolls with herb tomato sauce
By chef Heather Meyer
Note: Instead of baking cabbage rolls, you can save time by cooking them in a large sauté pan that has a tight fitting lid. Cook for about 35 minutes over medium-low heat if using this method.
- 1 head green cabbage
- 1 ½ cup cooked short grain brown rice
- 1 egg, slightly beaten
- ¼ cup milk
- ¼ cup diced onion, shallots or leeks
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 lb. ground beef from Sunshine Harvest Farms at the Mill City Farmers Market
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- ½ cup minced fresh herbs (dill, parsley, mint, thyme and basil, or whatever you have)
- 1 cup Greek yogurt and/or sour cream mixed with 1 teaspoon dill, for serving
- Assortment of pickled vegetables from Martha’s Joy at the Mill City Farmers Market
For the Sauce:
- 1/2 Tablespoon butter
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 cup broth or water
- 28 oz. can of crushed organic tomatoes
- 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon celery seed
- 1 teaspoon caraway seed
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 Tablespoon honey (optional for a sweeter sauce)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Separate 12–14 cabbage leaves (plus more for “patching” the rolls as needed) using any method. I like to carefully cut out the core of a raw head of cabbage with a paring knife and then peel off the outer layers. Other methods of separating cabbage leaves include: blanching the entire head and even using a hole saw. Once the leaves are separated, boil them for 2–5 minutes until pliable. Set them aside on a cutting board or plate to cool.
Make the sauce: Saute the garlic in butter in a medium saucepan for about a minute. Add the tomato paste and cook for another 1–2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add remaining sauce ingredients and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and set aside.
Make the filling: In a large bowl combine the cooked rice, egg, milk, onion, garlic, beef, salt and pepper and herbs. Mix with your hands until ingredients are evenly distributed. Place about 1/4 cup filling in center of each cabbage leaf and roll it up, tucking in sides (think egg rolls).
Pour half of your sauce into a baking dish (9-by-12 or slightly larger works well). Add cabbage rolls to the pan — pack them in tight! Pour the rest of the sauce evenly on top so all the cabbage rolls are covered.
Cover pan with foil and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until filling reaches 160 degrees. Serve with dill-infused sour cream and Martha’s J