Romanian Cabbage Rolls (Sarmale)

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In my continuing attempt to cook a dish from every country around the world, a project that is very slow moving, today we’re moving (figuratively) to Romania. (BTW, you can check out more of my cooking trip around the world here).

mromania

From Ukrainian nalysnyky to Polish pierogi, today is all about the classic Romanian and Eastern European dish, sarmale, or stuffed cabbage!

Almost all of the Eastern European countries* have a version of this hearty dish. In Poland and Russia, they’re called an gołąbki, which translates to little pigeons (very quaint); in Ukraine, they’re called Holubtsi, similarly in the Czech Republic and Slovakia where they’re called Holubky. But, despite the difference in names, these stuffed cabbage rolls are similar across cuisines — meat and rice wrapped in cabbage leaves, often cooked in a tomato or sour cream sauce (it is the sauce that normally differentiates them).

*Cabbage rolls are also found in Turkey, Egpyt and even Sweden!

Breakfast in Bed(stuy) / Romanian Cabbage Rolls

And they’re often eaten for Christmas dinners or for New Year’s Eve! (Yes, I know this would have been a better post for the winter months, but I don’t discriminate against dishes / have been pushing writing this post off for months).

But in any event, this is a great weekend dish to make — they’ll make your apartment smell amazing, bubbling and cooking for hours in the oven! Find something on Netflix** and get to stuffing and rolling cabbage leaf after cabbage leaf. I, for one, find this the best Sunday afternoon activity.. calming and relaxing and you get to enjoy the fruits of your labor afterwards!

*I recommend A Young Doctor’s Notebook…Jon Hamm and Daniel Radcliffe and set in Russia… perfect to put you into the Romanian stuffed cabbage mindset.

You’ll have plenty of leftovers for the week and they’re awesome the first day you eat them and even better the next day!

Breakfast in Bed(stuy) / Romanian Cabbage Rolls

Romanian Stuffed Cabbage

Adapted from Jo Cooks

1 green cabbage, leaves separated

2 onions, chopped

¾ cup basmati rice

1 tbsp olive oil

1¼ lb ground pork

1 lb pork/veal/beef mix

1 tbsp dried dill

1 tbsp dried thyme

salt and pepper to taste

5 slices bacon, chopped

1 liter tomato juice

Breakfast in Bed(stuy) / Romanian Cabbage Rolls

Sauté onions in a large pan in olive oil until tender. Add rice and toast in the onion and oil mixture. Remove from heat and let cool. Combine meat in a large mixing bowl with salt, pepper, dill and thyme. Add onion and rice mixture, once cooled, and mix well. Set aside until ready to assemble.  You’ll also want to par boil the cabbage leaves in a pot of boiling water for about 5 minutes, which will make them easier to roll.

Breakfast in Bed(stuy) / Romanian Cabbage Rolls

Fill each leaf with about a tablespoon of the meat mixture and roll them, gently enclosing the mixture. Place in a large casserole dish, seam side down.

Breakfast in Bed(stuy) / Romanian Cabbage Rolls

Layer the cabbage rolls on top of one another, with pieces of chopped bacon throughout.

Breakfast in Bed(stuy) / Romanian Cabbage Rolls

Cover the cabbage rolls with one liter of tomato juice. Cover with foil and bake for 3 hours at 375 degrees F. For the last hour, remove the foil and bake uncovered.

Breakfast in Bed(stuy) / Romanian Cabbage Rolls

And there you have stuffed Romanian cabbage rolls! They’re delicious and one of my favorite dishes to make! They’re meaty and flavorful with the pork, veal, beef and bacon (a meat lover’s dream right there) and pure comfort food.  And anything rolled in lettuce or cabbage leaves has to mean its healthy right?!?

I am all about Eastern European food lately! It really soothes the soul and I know in the depths of winter, I’m going to be cooking up many more of these dishes. This is practically a one pot meal too and can feed you for days! All pros in my book!

Romanian Cabbage Rolls (Sarmale)
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 green cabbage, leaves separated
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • ¾ cup basmati rice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1¼ lb ground pork
  • 1 lb pork/veal/beef mix
  • 1 tbsp dried dill
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 5 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 liter tomato juice
Instructions
  1. Sauté onions in a large pan in olive oil until tender. Add rice and toast in the onion and oil mixture. Remove from heat and let cool. Combine meat in a large mixing bowl with salt, pepper, dill and thyme. Add onion and rice mixture, once cooled, and mix well. Set aside until ready to assemble. You'll also want to par boil the cabbage leaves in a pot of boiling water for about 5 minutes, which will make them easier to roll.
  2. Fill each leaf with about a tablespoon of the meat mixture and roll them, gently enclosing the mixture. Place in a large casserole dish, seam side down.
  3. Layer the cabbage rolls on top of one another, with pieces of chopped bacon throughout.
  4. Cover the cabbage rolls with one liter of tomato juice. Cover with foil and bake for 3 hours at 375 degrees F. For the last hour, remove the foil and bake uncovered.
 

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