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Stuffed Cabbage Leaves

Sausage Filling

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground sausage
  • 1 cup long grain rice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • ½ cup chopped fennel fronds
  • ¼ cup finely chopped mint
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 11/2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 large cabbage leaves

Paprika Tomato Sauce

  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium diced onion
  • 3 or 4 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 4 teaspoons sweet or spicy paprika
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes with juice
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 4 leaves fresh sage and 4 sprigs thyme
  • ½ cup chopped fennel fronds
  • ¼ cup chopped mint leaves
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


First, make the filling for the Stuffed Cabbage Leaves: Soak the rice in hot water for at least 30 minutes then rinse well and add to a large mixing bowl with the meat, parsley, sage, fennel, mint, garlic, sugar, salt, and pepper. Mix well but don’t over mix, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate.

Bring a pot of water to a boil and prepare a large bowl full of ice water. Add the cabbage leaves to the pot and blanch them in the boiling water just until they are wilted; drain them and immediately transfer the leaves to the ice water. When the leaves are cold, remove them from the water and pat them dry.

Place a heaping 1/2 cup of the filling in the center of each cabbage leaf. Fold the sides of the leaf over the filling, overlapping them slightly, and then, starting at the stem end, roll up the leaf into a compact bundle. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Meanwhile, make the sauce: Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, onion, and garlic and saute until the vegetables are translucent. Add the tomato paste and paprika and saute till the paste begins to darken and become fragrant. Then, stir in the chicken stock, diced tomatoes with liquid , balsamic vinegar, sugar, thyme, fennel, mint, and sage. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer to reduce till desired thickness is achieved.

Arrange the stuffed cabbage leaves neatly in a single layer in the roasting pan or casserole dish. Pour the sauce over the top. Transfer the pan to the preheated oven and bake until the bundles are cooked through and firm to the touch and the rice is tender, about 35 to 45 minutes.

To serve, use a large spoon to transfer the rolls to a platter or individual heated plates. Spoon the sauce over and around them with either noodles or rice.

Please visit Brooke Elizabeth Barkley’s YouTube cooking show.

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About Brooke Elizabeth Barkley