There’s no avoiding winter here since we’re just 40 miles northwest of Chicago. Winter barely started when Mother Nature wasted no time in putting us in the deep freeze and keeping us there for 2 weeks with highs in the single digits, not counting bone-chilling wind chills way below zero ~ it's about unbearable! A warm-up is on the way today ~ that translates, SNOW!
All of this cold weather leads me to dishes like this stuffed cabbage leaves, a great comforting winter dish!
I have a ton of food memories from when I was growing up, but stuffed cabbage rolls isn't one of them. I don’t recall ever eating them back then, and Bill says the same.
While the direct origin of cabbage rolls cannot be certain, its lineage can be traced back some 2,000 years ago to Jewish cooking, according to Gil Marks, author of the 2010 Encyclopedia of Jewish Food. Cabbage is not mentioned in the Bible, but it is referred to in the Talmud, he says where the rabbis praise the cabbage for “sustenance.” Though no one knows where the tradition of filling leaves originates, it appears in cultures around the world stretching from Europe and the Middle East to the jungles of the Amazon.
For example, the following names and some of the differences in their recipes…
Jewish “holishkls” is served during the fall harvest festival. The dish is made with raisins, brown sugar, lemon and tomato for a sweet and sour taste.
Lithuanians call it “balandeliai,” translating to “little doves.”
Ukrainian “holubtsi” is made with sauerkraut, and usually no meat, served with perogie.
The Polish version is “golabki,” meaning “little pigeon feet” and served with sauerkraut and sweet paprika.
Finland’s version is “kaalikaaryle,” and the cabbage rolls are browned before brazing.
But today in America, it is just simply stuffed cabbage, the exemplary comfort food that makes a complete meal.
Here’s the version we eat: a savory meat and rice filling wrapped up in tender cabbage leaves that’s slow-baked in a sweet-sour tomato sauce.
While these cabbage rolls are pretty tasty straight out of the oven, there even better the next day, so here’s hoping you’ll be lucky enough to enjoy the leftovers, should you try this recipe!