When you love cabbage, it doesn’t take long for a sudden craving of delicious stuffed cabbage rolls to surface. When you add apple to the mix, it’s delightfully sweet and just a little bit addictive.
While many of us simply refer to these succulent rolls of spiced meat and filling as cabbage rolls, they are known by so many names:
• Poland: Gołąbki
• Czechs and Slovaks: Holubky
• Serbs and Croatians: Sarma
• Ukraine: Holubtsi
• Sweden: Kåldolmar
• Finland: Kaalikääryle
• Hungary: Töltött Káposzta
… and there are more, including a vast array of fillings and regional distinctions. A delightful dish that spans ethnicities and continents.
So, no matter what you call them, they are a beloved comfort dish. The addition of apple to this recipe make it, in our opinion, even more seasonal… and delicious!
Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Apple
2 quarts water
1 large green cabbage (about 2 1/2 pounds)
1 tablespoon butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 lb mushrooms, sliced (cremini or white button)
2 cups cooked rice
1 lb ground beef
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 tablespoon sugar
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
2 celery stalks with leaves, finely chopped
4 cups tomato puree
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
Using a paring knife, remove center core of cabbage. In a large stockpot, bring 2 quarts water to a boil. Add cabbage, core side down, and cook 2 to 3 minutes or until outer leaves are bright green and tender. Lift cabbage from water, and remove outer leaves. Return cabbage to boiling water, and repeat brief cooking and removal of leaves until all leaves are cooked. Reserve 2 cups cabbage cooking water. Trim thick center vein from bottom of each leaf. Reserve four large outer leaves to line bottom of pan.
In a medium skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and mushrooms, cook until tender and the liquid has evaporated, about 8 minutes. Add to the rice.
In a large bowl, combine onion mixture, rice, ground beef, paprika, sugar, salt, pepper, and celery with leaves. Stir to combine.
Add about 1/3 cup rice/meat filling to one cabbage leaf. Fold sides of cabbage over filling, and, starting with the stem end, roll the cabbage up. Repeat with remaining leaves and filling.
Line a 5-quart Dutch oven with reserved outside leaves. Transfer stuffed cabbage leaves to Dutch oven.
In a large bowl, combine tomato puree and the reserved 2 cups of cabbage cooking water. Pour some of the tomato sauce over cabbage to almost cover. Sprinkle apple over top of cabbage leaves. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce to a gentle simmer; cover. Cook for 1 hour or until cabbage is very tender, adding additional tomato sauce as needed.