Greek Cabbage Rolls




About: My LED (I mean flashlight) Gummies profile photo is inspired by the LED Throwies.

This recipe is great not as much for the filling but to learn how to make leaves from cabbage that you can roll anything in, for a fun yummy "pocket."

I must add that making this was particularly thrilling as I used many ingredients either grown by friends or whose source I knew of, including the meat. It was a slow food to make with a Slow Food credo.

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Step 1: Mix Filling

Note - what you put in the filling is entirely up to you. I started with a vegetarian recipe from and turned it into a meat recipe.

The meat cooks as you boil the rolls so you mix the uncooked rice and uncooked meat together.

1 lb raw ground beef and/or lamb
1.5 cups uncooked rice (I used brown basmati)
1 red onion, chopped
1 large or 2 small tomatoes, chopped
1/2 zucchini, chopped
1 T fresh or dry mint

Have on hand:
2 lemons
salt, pepper
olive oil

Step 2: Make Cabbage Leaves

Here's the fun part.

Boil a pot of water
Cut a chunk of cabbage core out. You'll be needing to get the leaves off so you can cut them off individually but easier if you have a big piece missing.

Stick a fork in the core.
Let the cabbage boil for a few minutes
Pull it up with the fork and try peeling an outer leaf off. It should be fairly easy.
Cut the hard "bone" part of the core off. That's good to eat or use some other way.
Put the cabbage back in and keep doing this as each layer gets soft. TOTALLY FUN.

Step 3: Make the Rolls

The large leaves are the easiest to roll.

Don't worry that it will seem like your rolls may fall apart since even if they do you can ladle out the stuff and it will be delicious.

Put a few tablespoons of filling in one end of a leaf and try to fold in the sides as you roll it up. You want it to come out like a burrito ideally. If it's too full just take out some of the filling.

Make them tight but leave enough space for the rice to expand (these aren't sushi after all).

Lay the pockets into the pot, with the seam sides down.

FOR UGLY LEAVES - you can line the bottom of the pot.

Pour some olive oil into the bottom (well I poured it on top of the pockets after). Oil is just good!

Step 4: Cook the Rolls

You can make as many layers of rolls as needed, fitting them fairly tightly together.

Fill the pot with water above the rolls, so that the rice and meet will cook.

Put a plate on top to weigh them down so they don't float and fall apart.

Turn heat on high to boil then to medium / low so the rice and meat have time to cook.

It will take about 1/2 hour or 40 minutes if you use brown rice.

You know when they're ready when the rice is done. The meat will be done at that time too.

Step 5: Enjoy

Eat your creation, squeezing lemon juice + salt and pepper to taste.


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    14 Discussions


    3 years ago

    can't wait to make these.

    they look awesome.


    7 years ago on Step 3

    If you fold the ends over, the rolls will not fall apart, especially once cooked. Think of it more like an envelope, instead of a tube


    7 years ago on Step 2

    It is much easier to make rolls if you freeze the entire cabbage. Then thaw it. The leaves will peel off very easily, and roll much more easily than if you blanche them. Also, you don't have to try to hold hot leaves while you stuff them.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    if you ever wanna ask for it in a greek restaurant( if they serve it anywhere :\) , know that in greek this is usually called "dolmades" or "lahanodolmades" :P

    1 reply

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Yes exactly...They served in 2 a soup with lemon and eggs and without any gravy. It's very special meal...we eat it on Sundays and specific in Holidays. It's difficult to get it in Restaurants because they cost a lot of money due to the appropriate time they gonna spend to make them...Even here in Greece its hard to find them in restaurants. But on Sunday's home table are served with Tzatziki and Retsina wine... 5/5


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you for bringing this to my attention, it has been a long time since I madecabbage rolls and I love them..ometimes we get in a rut and forget some of the old favorites.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    You DON'T boil them cabbage as a whole. You either boil the leaves or soak them in hot water for a few minutes to wilt them after you remove them from its core. Otherwise, it will be really difficult to wrap them. It is also NOT specific to Greek, almost all eastern Mediterrenean cultures cook this dish. Look up "stuffed cabbage leaves" for a real recipe.

    3 replies

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Hi, The lemon and mint make it Greek style and I got the recipe from a Greek cook. Many Europeans cook stuffed cabbage as well. If you look at any cooking website you will see variations on recipes which of course originated in one place. This method of getting the leaves came from one recipe I found. Your way probably is easier.


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Who is to decide where a piece of cultural form comes from. Lemon and mint are used extensively in most Mediterrenaen cooking and it does not make it any more specific. Anyways, I'm just irritated by the cultural shortcutism that labels things with random qualifiers. Sorry, I lashed out on you. It is also not called "cabbage rolls" :)


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    MY father is from Greece he was a fantastic cook I remember the Dolmas and i also remember him making Greek cabbage rolls (sarmades) made from chopped pork,rice ,garlic onions etc. He covered them with a cremay avgolemono sauce using chicken broth, fresh lemon juice and beaten eggs ! This is a tradional dish served during the Christmas season in Greece still today. Greeks like their food well sesoned with a heavy hand of salt & pepper.I am also half Polish on Mom's side and have had cabbage rolls made Polish style with sauerkraut,covered with V8 juice or tomatojuice she used a combo of beef and ground pork. They are all fantastic and make my mouth water . Talk about comfort food.. wow this is it .. any syle at all they are delicious


    11 years ago on Introduction

    man, looks so damn good, ima try that for lunch tmr man, thanks


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Mmm, these are great. I come from the Pennsylvania Dutch area in the northeastern part of the USA. These were a staple in everyone's home. We called them 'piggies' or 'pigs in a blanket'. Here are some ideas you may want to try next time you make these. Try closing cabbage with toothpicks. Use V-8 juice or other tomato based juice/sauce to highlight them in a different sauce. Add some shredded cabbage to the initial mixture. This is a great way to get more nutrition into your kids. And finally for those frugal minded persons, use the resulting 'broth' as a soup, just add your favorite pasta or dumpling. And remember all of this freezes well too.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    looks delicious! my b/f loves cabbage, and this will be a new way to feed him haha!


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Those look awesome! Thanks for the recipe - I can't wait to try it.