Matt's Recipe Book


Prep time1 hour
Cooking time90 minutes

These are traditional Romanian cabbage rolls, eaten at Christmas, Easter, and other special occasions. I can't get enough of them – serve them with some polenta, along with a generous serving of sour cream and dill.

The pickled cabbage can be a bit of a specialty ingredient in the UK, but should be available from various Eastern European stores. Look for something like "Keseli Kupus"


  • A large, deep stockpot


  • 1 whole pickled sour cabbage
  • 4 onions
  • 75ml olive oil
  • 250g long-grain rice
  • 225g minced beef
  • 225g minced pork
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 100g tomato paste
  • 25g fresh dill
  • 5 thyme sprigs
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 400g tinned chopped tomatoes


  1. First, prepare the filling. Dice the onions, then heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Cook the onion for about 10 minutes until soft. Stir in the paprika and tomato paste, the turn off the heat. Stir in the rice until combined, then add the beef and pork along with the salt, and pepper. Chop the dill, reserve about 3-4tbsp, and add the rest to the meat mixture. Stir until well combined and set aside.
  2. Prepare the cabbage – peel apart the leaves, then cut out the large veins and slice each leaf into small triangles of about 6-7cm across. Chop the veins and any offcuts, and reserve in a bowl.
  3. Start making the cabbage rolls. Place about 1tbsp of the filling on a slice of the cabbage leaf, placed in the middle bottom. Fold in the sides and then roll up and set aside. Repeat until the filling has all been used.
  4. Take any remaining cabbage leaves or offcuts, chop them, and add them to the reserved cabbage bowl. Combine with the reserved dill along with a bit of salt and pepper.
  5. Place the thyme sprigs in the stock pot, then add half of the chopped cabbage on top. Add the cabbage rolls to the pot one at a time, working in circles until one layer is complete, then move onto the next one. Once all of the rolls are used, spread the remaining chopped cabbage on top, then add the chopped tomatoes.
  6. Pour hot, salted water on top until the cabbage rolls are almost submerged, then place the stockpot over a medium heat until it starts to boil. Turn the heat to low and then simmer for about 1 hour.
  7. Remove the cabbage rolls and serve the the chopped cabbage, along with sour cream, polenta, and dill.