Ukrainian Beet Leaf Rolls and Bread Dough Filling Recipe

High Angle View Of Common Beet On Slate Over Table
Heinrich Herwig / EyeEm/Getty Images
  • 90 mins
  • Prep: 30 mins,
  • Cook: 60 mins
  • Yield: 24 rolls (8 to 12 servings)
Ratings (28)

This recipe for beet leaves stuffed with bread dough, or holubtsi z khlibnoho testu zapovnennya, is an interesting variation on Ukrainian holubtsi literally meaning "little pigeons" but better known as stuffed cabbage rolls. (Some people say holopchi.) Fillings vary—meat, vegetables, grains like buckwheat—but so do the wrappers.

In the summer, beet, lettuce, and spinach leaves can take the place of cabbage and, in the grape-growing regions of Ukraine, grape leaves often are used.

This will work with any good bread recipe, thawed frozen bread dough, or the one provided below. If beet leaves aren't available, fill cabbage leaves with the bread dough. 

What You'll Need

  • For the Bread Dough:​
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup milk (warm)
  • 2 cups water (warm)
  • 1 ounce butter (melted)
  • 4 cups ​flour (all-purpose)
  • 2 large eggs (beaten)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 1/4 cups flour (all-purpose)
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter (or oil)
  • For the Rolls:
  • 2  bunches beet leaves
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • For the Creamy Dill Sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour (all-purpose)
  • 1 cup vegetable or meat broth
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons dill (chopped, fresh)
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste

How to Make It

Make the Bread Dough

  1. In a glass measuring cup or small bowl, use a fork to combine yeast with 1/4 cup warm water and 1/2 teaspoon sugar. Let stand for 10 minutes.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together milk, 2 cups warm water, 1 ounce melted butter, and yeast mixture. Add 4 cups flour and mix just until well combined. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled (about 1 hour).
  1. Punch dough down and transfer to a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, if desired, and add beaten eggs, 1 tablespoon salt, 1 tablespoon sugar, and 3 1/4 cups flour. Knead until dough is smooth. Smear top with melted butter or oil, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled (about 1 to 2 hours).

Prepare the Beet Leaves

  1. Meanwhile, wash the beet leaves and blanch in boiling water for 30 seconds or until pliable (especially if using mature leaves).
  2. Remove from water and shock with cold water to stop the cooking process. Let drain.

Assemble and Bake the Rolls

  1. When the dough has doubled, punch it down. Take a walnut-sized piece of dough, elongating it to a rectangular shape, and place it on a beet leaf. Roll up loosely, as you would for cabbage rolls, except leave the sides open to allow for the dough to expand as it rises and then bakes. If you like larger rolls, use more bread dough but, remember, it will grow. If you have leftover dough, form it into a loaf and bake it after allowing it to rise.
  2. Line the bottom and sides of a Dutch oven or other large pot with beet leaves. Place a layer of beet rolls in the bottom. Brush with melted butter or other fat and salt. Repeat layering, ending with melted butter or fat and salt on top. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled (about 1 to 2 hours).
  3. Heat oven to 350 F. When holubtsi have risen, remove the plastic wrap and cover with a layer of beet leaves and a tight-fitting lid whose inside has been brushed with butter or fat. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour and serve hot with creamy dill sauce.

    Make the Creamy Dill Sauce

    1. While the rolls are baking, make the sauce by melting 2 tablespoons butter in small saucepan. Stir in 2 tablespoons flour and cook until mixture bubbles. Add broth and, whisking constantly, bring to a slow boil. Cook until thickened, whisking frequently. 
    2. Place sour cream in a heatproof bowl and temper by whisking 1 or 2 small ladles of thickened broth mixture, then add tempered sour cream back into the sauce, whisking until smooth.
    3. Add 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, and adjust seasonings. Keep warm until ready to serve.
    Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
    Calories 255
    Total Fat 16 g
    Saturated Fat 8 g
    Unsaturated Fat 6 g
    Cholesterol 106 mg
    Sodium 1,073 mg
    Carbohydrates 21 g
    Dietary Fiber 2 g
    Protein 7 g
    (The nutrition information on our recipes is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. Individual results may vary.)