|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 15g||20%|
|Saturated Fat 8g||42%|
|Total Carbohydrate 61g||22%|
|Dietary Fiber 9g||32%|
|Total Sugars 11g|
|Vitamin C 100mg||499%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|
Cabbage leaves stuffed with meat, rice, and vegetables are common in Eastern Europe and the Balkans and are also found in Asian and African cuisines. Because recipes adapt to societal and cultural needs and to what's available in the area, many versions of these rolls have just meat, others are strictly vegetarian, and others are a combination of the two. The Ukrainian version of stuffed cabbage, known as holubtsi, also has many variations, but in general, the filling is always enriched with grain and flavored with vegetables. Our take on these "little pigeons," the literal translation of the name, is a meatless variation, ideal as a side dish to richer meaty recipes but also as a main in vegetarian families that might find this dish perfect with a side of potatoes or rice.
We use cabbage leaves, as do most traditional recipes, but beet, lettuce, or spinach leaves—and even grape leaves—are also used in Ukraine when making versions of this dish. The cooking liquid also varies by region and family and can include broth, tomato juice, and sour cream. For our filling, we chose a potato-buckwheat mixture, really hearty and nutritious. Despite its name, buckwheat is not related to wheat and is actually gluten free, which makes this recipe suitable for people with gluten restrictions in their diets.
Although the dish requires some time investment, the beauty is that it yields generous portions that make great leftovers and that can be frozen too for a future lunch or dinner. Serve alongside a salad, potato pancake, or crusty bread. Use the pan juices to serve the rolls or use a simple tomato sauce or more sour cream to serve. Alternatively, mix the pan juices with additional sour cream and ladle it over the cabbage rolls.
"While it is a labor of love, the process for this recipe is incredibly straightforward and super-enjoyable to cook through. Don’t skip the steps of rinsing the buckwheat in boiling water or draining the potatoes of their starchy liquid. It makes all the difference here!" —Kayla Hoang
Kosher salt, as needed
1 head green cabbage, about 4 pounds
4 large potatoes, peeled and finely grated
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sour cream, divided
1/2 cup buckwheat, rinsed twice with boiling water and drained
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Steps to Make It
Gather the ingredients.
Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil.
Remove and discard the core from cabbage. Put the cabbage in the boiling water, cored side up. Cover and cook until tender enough to pull off individual leaves, about 15 minutes.
Carefully remove cabbage head from water and allow it to cool until it's easy to handle. Remove 18 whole leaves. Use a paring knife to cut away thick center stems from each leaf, without cutting all the way through.
Finely chop remaining cabbage and place it at the bottom of a large casserole dish or Dutch oven.
Drain potatoes in a mesh strainer or cheesecloth, twisting or pressing to remove as much moisture as possible.
Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the lemon juice so they don't turn brown. Set aside.
In a small skillet, sauté the onion in butter until tender.
Add onion mixture to the potatoes, combining well.
Add 1/2 cup of sour cream and the buckwheat to potato mixture, combining thoroughly. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 350 F.
Place about 1/2 cup of filling on each cabbage leaf. Roll once away from you to encase the filling.
Flip right side of leaf to the middle, then flip left side. You will have something that looks like an envelope. Keep rolling again until you have a neat little roll.
Place cabbage rolls, seam side down on top of chopped cabbage in the casserole dish or Dutch oven, seasoning each layer with salt and pepper.
Dollop the remaining 1 cup of sour cream evenly over the holubtsi. Cover and bake until the buckwheat filling is tender, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours
Can I Cook the Rolls in a Slow Cooker?
An easy variation makes a hands-off dish. Follow all the method steps before baking but place the chopped cabbage at the bottom of a greased slow cooker:
- Place the formed rolls on top of the chopped cabbage, seasoning each layer with salt and pepper to taste.
- Mix the remaining 1 cup of sour cream with 2 cups of vegetable broth or stock and add this liquid on top of the rolls.
- Set the slow cooker on low for 4 to 5 hours, or on high for 3 to 4, or until the filling is tender. If needed, add more broth to the pot to keep the rolls moistened at all times.