HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


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?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
    1. re: CindyJ

      I had to google this, but it looks like something I would really like. I will definitely make this with my next batch of cabbage rolls!

      1. re: Abby0105

        You should really try it. It's a great side dish with stuffed cabbage. It's easy to make and it'll be great with the gravy from the cabbage.

      2. re: CindyJ

        Kasha is buckwheat, right? But what are varnishkes? And how do both go together to make a dish? Please excuse my ignorance!

          1. re: herby

            Kasha varnishkes = kasha and bowtie pasta. It's an old Eastern European dish. How do they go together? They just do. Try it... you'll see. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/22/din...

            1. re: CindyJ

              Thanks CindyJ! I had it before but didn't know the name. Great simple recipe - I'll make it soon:)

              1. re: CindyJ

                How do you get the horrible smell of the cooked groats out of your home?

                1. re: mucho gordo

                  I've never noticed a "horrible smell" when cooking kasha. It's certainly no worse than the smell from cooking oatmeal -- or cooking cabbage, for that matter.

                  1. re: mucho gordo

                    Oh you mean that delicious toasted Buckwheat smell?

            2. The Polish Delis around my parts always serve them with mashed potatoes or Pierogies and Bigos

              1. Growing up we always ate them with boiled potatoes with a bit of salt and pepper on them (although I've heard of serving mashed potatoes with them, as well). Rye bread and butter on the side, too.

                4 Replies
                1. re: kubasd

                  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.

                  1. re: 1sweetpea

                    >>>Kashe varnishkes sounds awesome too, but in my house, it tends to be the star, not a side dish.<<<

                    Funny you should say that, because when I was a kid, kasha varnishkes were served as an entree.

                    1. re: CindyJ

                      me too re Kasha
                      I like mashed potatoes with stuffed cabbage.

                      1. re: magiesmom

                        My grandmother made kasha varnishkes as an entree as well. I hated the way it made her apartment smell!

                2. I am always looking for a new recipe for cabbage rolls. I haven't found any as good as my grandma's, and she passed away in 1987.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: jeanmarieok

                    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)
                    4 peppercorns
                    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.

                    Photos and more info on www.foodbeest.com. I hope this fits the rules for posting.

                    1. re: chicgail

                      I know! I know! It's the sour salt -- isn't it? What do I win?

                      1. re: CindyJ

                        It is. Just don't tell my Aunt Esther I gave the secret away.

                        1. re: chicgail

                          Actually, I think my Buby was the one who passed the secret to your Aunt Esther. :)

                          1. re: CindyJ

                            Any chance your buby is my Aunt Esther?

                            1. re: chicgail

                              Any chance you're my long-lost cousin?????

                      2. re: chicgail

                        Sugar? Chiles? My grandmother would not approve. She made her cabbage rolls with ground beef, rice, and onions wrapped in cabbage leaves, then baked in a tomato sauce. I substitute minced mushrooms for the ground beef, add a little garlic and a bit of the tomato sauce to keep them from drying out. If you use large savoy cabbage leaves that have been blanched just before stuffing you can fold them so you don't need the toothpicks.

                        The cabbage rolls I had in Austria recently were a spiced ground pork wrapped in cabbage, then wrapped in bacon, cooked in a broth, and served with a side of cabbage They were much larger than the ones I've seen before, and it looked like they overlapped several leaves to make a large roll which they served in slices.

                    2. I serve cabbage rolls with mashed potatoes and small green peas. Good balance of color and flavor.

                      1 Reply
                        1. Cabbage rolls with a side of cabbage rolls. Possibly cabbage rolls for dessert.

                          2 Replies
                          1. I like them with potatoes.

                            1. 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.

                              1. 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

                                1. I'm with the buckwheat folks, or something like a latke/rosti/potato pancake/other-regional-variation works nicely as well because of the crispiness. You could spin on that by making that with celeriac or parsnip instead of potato, too.

                                  1. It doesn't matter what you serve. Cabbage rolls are that amazing with sour cream. A light meal would be with bread/salad and lots of rolls. A heavier meal would be the same with perogies (fried or unfried onions), on the plate unshredded green lettuce with large slices of tomatoe, sausage could be mixed with the perogies or you could also add smoked ribs between the cabbage rolls. This is a meal that is very flexible but you could also add buttered carrot sliced long with broccoli bits. Mashed potatoes is great in place of perogies, but hey, you can add both. Many people just want the rolls and/or perogies with bread....lots of cabbage rolls...it is almost like a wine tasting thingy...just cabbage rolls!

                                    1. perogies and, and, and, and wine or beer.

                                      1. Usually I'd serve them with sour cream and a salad at home. Cabbage rolls, perogies and schnitzel, with a side of 3 veg salads (carrot, beet and coleslaw), are a great combination plate at a Polish resto I visit.

                                        1. Tried cooking the cabbage rolls with 3-4" pieces of Kielbasa placed in with them after seeing a PBS cooking show out of Buffalo (seems to be a large Polish contingent in Buffalo). Never made them again without the kielbasa.

                                          Just a warning though, be careful if serving them family style, someone is likely to get a fork stuck in the back of their hand going for the last piece of kielbasa. ;-)

                                          1. I always make Hluskie to go with cabbage rolls. It uses up the leftover cabbage after you've used the big leaves to make your rolls. To make Hluskie, chop the cabbage leftover from the rolls & saute it with butter, salt & pepper till it's tender. Meanwhile boil a bag of Bowtie pasta. When the cabbage & Bowties are done mix them together & serve.

                                            1. I think cabbage rolls are best served with a crusty bread and a second helping.

                                              1. My standard sides with stuffed cabbage is mashed potatoes and cucumbers with sour cream dressing. Never deviates.

                                                1. I am sharing my Grandma's recipe for stuffed cabbage. If you don't want to use the ham hocks, you can skip that part of the recipe and just make the rolls without the ham. It will still be delicious! I just made some and used just one large head of cabbage. I serve mine with mashed potatoes and a cucumber salad. I also like to put a dollop of sour cream over the stuffed cabbage after breaking it apart.

                                                  Stuffed Cabbage

                                                  3 ham hocks 2 8oz. cans Hunts tomato sauce
                                                  2 med. heads cabbage ¼ C. brown sugar
                                                  2lbs. lean ground pork 1 Tlbs. beef or chicken bouillon
                                                  1 med. onion, chopped 1 jar Bavarian sauerkraut
                                                  1 C. raw rice Sour cream
                                                  1 ½ tsp. Lowry’s seasoned salt
                                                  ½ tsp pepper

                                                  Place ham hocks in a large Dutch oven and cover with water (about 4 cups). Bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover and simmer for about an hour. Meanwhile, remove outer wilted leaves from cabbage and cut out some of the core. Place one head in a large pot and pour over some boiling water. Cover and steam for a few minutes. Take cabbage out of water and carefully remove softened leaves. Repeat the process. Do the same with other head of cabbage. You should have about 18-20 leaves. Carefully trim down the thick, heavy part of each leaf. In a large bowl, combine ground pork, rice, chopped onions and seasoning. Mix thoroughly with your hand. To stuff cabbage leaves, place on the center of each leaf about 1/4 -1/2 cup of the meat mixture. Roll each leaf, tucking in the ends. Set aside. When ham hocks are done, remove and cut off as much meat as possible. Pour liquid from pan into a large bowl and set aside. In the bottom of the Dutch oven, place a few cabbage leaves. Next, place pieces of ham and the ham bones. Place rolled cabbage leaves in one layer on top of this. Sprinkle on some of the sauerkraut. Place another layer of rolled cabbage leaves and sauerkraut. Repeat until all rolled cabbage leaves and sauerkraut are used. In the bowl of ham juice, add tomato sauce, brown sugar and bouillon granules. Stir. Pour over the stuffed cabbage. You may need to add more water to cover the rolled cabbage. Bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover, and simmer for about two hours. Serve with sour cream.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: llopos

                                                    I see we have another mashed potato and cuke salad!
                                                    Thanks for the recipe.

                                                  2. I love taking leftover cabbage rolls right out of the fridge and making a sandwich with them. I just put them in a crusty roll with some extra parmesan and eat them cold. Sometimes I will add some shredded iceberg and oil & vinegar too.

                                                    1. I have never eaten - let alone made - cabbage rolls, but according to the polka: coffee. Mmm, mmm, good!

                                                      1. Regarding cabbage leaf preparation: please try this. Buy a large head of cabbage, throw it in the freezer. When you're ready to make rolls, let the head of cabbage defrost. Now the leaves are perfect for rolling - no boiling, blanching, or toothpicks needed!

                                                        1. First, I definitely plan to try that freezing the cabbage tip. Sounds intriguing.

                                                          Second ... kasha varnishkes ... loved it ever since I can remember, and although it was a side dish in my childhood, I often make it as a main dish.

                                                          A few years ago I made it for a vegetarian friend who never had it. He liked it when he tasted it, but thought a moment and said, "You know, this would be good with soy sauce." At which time he went to the cupboard, got my soy sauce and poured some on.

                                                          My reaction was, "ewwwww." But who am I not to at least taste something. Well, I'll be darned, but it was delicious! Now I prefer it with some soy sauce on it. Give it a try, it really is good. Talk about fusion cuisine. LOL

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: kookiefool

                                                            Please let us know how the freezing cabbage tip works for you! Once I learned this tip, I've never made cabbage rolls any other way :-(