What do you serve with cabbage rolls?
This is always a puzzle for me. In my version, the stuffing is sausage, rice, and the inner part of the cabbage, so there's already a protein, starch, and vegetable. And yet, it doesn't seem filling enough to be a one dish meal. Based on what I already have, tonight I'll serve them with a green salad and either the rest of the bread from last night (unless I save it for a Saturday morning strata) or roasted potatoes. For next time, in your ideal world, what goes with cabbage rolls?
Bread like you mention. Bread that is a bit dry (not fresh) is even better for sopping up the sauce. Some butter on the table for the stale bread. A simple salad on the side. Don't exert yourself on salad or anything else because you already did so making the stuffed cabbage. Just my preferences
Sour cream and a couple slices of rye.
At my favourite Polish restaurant, the cabbage rolls come with a trio of salads, usually a carrot salad, a beet salad, and a cabbage salad/Euro coleslaw. There's also a combo platter available, featuring a small schnitzel, half a dozen perogies, and 2 cabbage rolls, along with the trio of salads and some rye bread.
Here's my Grandma Tillie's recipe for cabbage balls. I have adapted it from my grandma's original. It contains a "secret ingredient" that sets off from most. See if you can figure out what that is.
1½ lbs ground beef and/or turkey
¼ C brown rice
½ t salt
1 cabbage, leaves separated
½ C white raisins
1 large can diced tomatoes
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 small dried chilies
Juice of one lemon
½ C plus 2 T brown sugar
2 pieces or 1 t sour salts (citric acid)
1 bay leaf
Core the cabbage and carefully break the leaves off the head of cabbage. Cut the woody triangular core out of each of the cabbage leaves and then cut the biggest cabbage leaves in half.
The cabbage leaves will be firm and brittle so you have to scald them with boiling water to make them pliable. My mother used to put them in a colander and pour boiling water over them. I used a bowl so that they spent more time in the hot water.
I mixed a pound of ground beef with a half-pound of ground turkey and then, with my hands, mixed in the brown rice, salt and ¼ cup white raisins. Using wet hands, form the mixture into walnut-sized balls. Remember that you have just gotten up close and personal with raw beef and/or poultry so wash your hands any time you touch something else.
Wrap meatballs in cabbage leaves so that the meatballs are completely covered on all four sides. Fasten them with toothpicks (you will want them strategically placed to hold the cabbage in place). If you need more than one toothpick, that's ok.
Put the cabbage-covered meatballs in a large soup pot and cover with water. Bring to boil. Reduce to simmer for 45 minutes. Carefully remove any “scum” that has risen to the top of the broth.
Add tomatoes, celery, chilies, lemon juice, brown sugar, sour salts, peppercorns, bay leaf and the remainder of raisins.
Cover and bake in 325-degree oven for 2½ –3 hours. Correct sweet-to-sour seasoning to taste.
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I had sensational cabbage rolls with lamb filling recently at a Hungarian restaurant. I was given a choice of mashed potatoes, rice or tiny dumplings. I went with the dumplings and they were great,
Kashe varnishkes sounds awesome too, but in my house, it tends to be the star, not a side dish.
I think it would be perfectly acceptable to serve a meal in a few courses: simple beet borscht, green salad, cabbage rolls. With a nice crusty bread on the side, it should be ample.