Alright, show of hands.
Who else loves cabbage rolls?
Chances are that if you have Eastern European ancestry or grew up in the States, cabbage rolls are a special occasion comfort food. I’m of polish descent, but this recipe blurs the cultural lines of several cuisines. Serbian cabbage rolls taste similar…
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Why are they purple?
Well, I had a bunch of ruby kraut leftover from my fermenting vegetables post. Since purple cabbage can bleed into green, the natural choice was to opt for purple-on-purple. Who knew comfort food could look so striking and fun?
In case it’s not obvious, you don’t have to use purple cabbage. The color of the cabbage has no impact on the taste, so feel free to use green for a more traditional appearance.
Star Ingredient: cabbage
Flavor Affinities: Beef + Sauerkraut + Tomato
Tastes: herby and fresh, tangy, savory
Textures: chewy, saucy
Ease: easy – moderate
Wisdom: Cooking the cabbage rolls in an acidic broth of sauerkraut and tomato paste really compliments the rich savory filling inside.
How to Make the Cabbage Rolls
To make the rolling process as simple as possible, I recommend boiling the entire head of cabbage in a large pot of salted water. Depending on the size of your cabbage, this takes about 15 minutes.
Tip: If your cabbage won’t fit underneath the water line, you can rotate it with a pair of tongs halfway through. Let your cabbage cool before gently removing the leaves. Boiling the cabbage makes the leaves pliable and less likely to tear.
Use the natural bowl-like surface of the leaf to hold a large spoonful of filling. Roll and fold in the sides of the leaves. Since the rice will expand a bit, don’t make the rolls too tight. Position the rolls side by side on a bed of sauerkraut in a large pot or dutch oven…
I like to set a plate on top of the rolls to prevent them from moving around. Add the water infused with tomato paste and fresh thyme sprigs (plus extra water – enough to cover the tops). Simmer for 1 hour and get ready to enjoy a fresh steaming cabbage roll with some of the braised sauerkraut.
With a few humble ingredients, taking the time to stuff and roll cabbage makes this a thoughtful dish. Using purple cabbage is especially playful because it’s unexpected. Regardless of the color, this is exactly the kind of dinner I would be proud to serve to guests.Print
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