Stuffed Cabbage

2 quarts water
1 large green cabbage (about 2 1/2 pounds)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 celery stalks with leaves, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh, chopped dill
2 cups cooked rice
16 oz ground beef (I used ground turkey, but you can also use 1/2 beef and 1/2 pork or a combination)
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
4 cups tomato puree
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup sour cream for garnish
dill for garnish


In a large stockpot, bring at least 2 quarts water to a boil. While you’re waiting on that, remove center core of cabbage. Once the water boils, pour the boiling water over the cabbage that you have placed into a deep bowl, to cover the cabbage completely. Put a lid on top of the bowl to let cabbage steam. Alternatively, you can gently slide the cabbage into the pot of water and let it steam there (fewer dishes to clean – bonus!) The reason you want to steam and not boil the cabbage is because it releases sulfur when cooked for an extended period of time and doesn’t smell so great (or so I’ve been told about the sulfur part).

Lift cabbage from water after a few minutes, and remove outer leaves. Return cabbage to the hot water and do that until all the leaves are softened. You might want to bring the water to a boil or add more hot water, but once water is hot enough, turn the heat off.

Reserve 2 cups cabbage cooking water. Trim thick center vein from bottom of each leaf.

Take the 3-4 largest outer leaves and line your pot or dutch oven with them.
In a medium skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and celery, and cook until golden and tender, about 8 minutes. Add some dill and cook another minute longer.

In a large bowl, combine onion mixture, rice, beef (or your ground meat of choice), salt and pepper. Stir well to combine

Add about 1/4 cup rice filling to one cabbage leaf and fold sides of cabbage over filling. Because you want to be starting with the stem end the filling should be closer to that end.
Roll the cabbage up and repeat with remaining leaves and filling.

Transfer stuffed cabbage to Dutch oven

In a large bowl, combine tomato puree, tomato paste and the reserved 2 cups of cabbage cooking water. Pour the mixture over the stuffed cabbage so it almost covers. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce to a gentle simmer; cover. Cook for 1 hour or longer, until cabbage is very tender, adding additional tomato sauce as needed.

Serve with dollops of sour cream and a sprinkling of dill.

© 2024 Olga Massov