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Really Tasty Tomato Sauce For Stuffed Cabbage (Golabki)

I've been making Polish stuffed cabbage for years, and eating it all my life. I feel like I've improved on my mother's basic recipe and am happy with the meat and rice stuffing, but I'd like to kick up the tomato sauce a notch or two.
Mom made the tomato sauce with Campbell's tomato soup and ketchup. She'd also lay raw bacon across the top, which I do from time to time.
My tomato sauce varies from just fresh tomato sauce or canned sauce/puree, to adding sweet and sour components like vinegar, lemon juice, sugar, agave, ketchup etc.
So, does anyone have a favorite tomato sauce recipe for stuffed cabbage that is good enough to hold its own along with the stuffed cabbage itself?
I need inspiration!

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  1. My wife of 53+ years is of Italian descent and uses a combination of Colavita and Hunt's No Salt Added sauces for pasta dishes. I like Classico sauces. Stay away from the cheap ones that have High Fructose Corn Sweetener as an ingredient. Read the ingredient list on the label before you buy any commercial tomato sauces.

    My wife also adds some red wine to the canned products as she prepares the sauce combination for dinner. Maybe that'll kick the sauce up a notch for you.

    1. My wife is part Slovak and her family uses the soup too, which I don't really like. I used pureed tomato, onion and homemade chicken stock the last time and it worked well

      1. http://theshiksa.com/2011/10/22/stuff...
        this version is pretty close to what I've always followed. The only thing I add to the tomato sauce not listed is cider vinegar; just 2 T. for added kick.

        2 Replies
        1. re: HillJ

          Thanks for posting this recipe, I am looking for a cabbage roll sauce as well. I have always liked the sweet and sour style sauce. I like that you add cider vinegar.

          1. re: HillJ

            Looks good, thanks!
            Getting inspired... it's golabki weather!

          2. I like a smooth tomato sauce with prunes and cider vinegar.

            4 Replies
            1. re: magiesmom

              Prunes... now that really interests me. They were prominent in Polish cooking and baking.

              1. re: monavano

                Prunes add a nice sweetness and richness to the sauce. I've not made the sauce this way myself but I have tasted the sauce prepared using dried prunes and it was tasty.

                1. re: monavano

                  You don't need too many, but they lend both a sweetness and silky texture.

                  1. re: magiesmom

                    I'm sold-- will definitely give this a try.

              2. interesting, stuffed cabbage is a national dish for us, but would NEVER EVER put tomato sauce in it!

                we serve it with sour cream :)

                maybe you could try to do it next time in this way - and use only fermented cabbage leaves!

                3 Replies
                1. re: hovirag

                  I do want to try it with a lemon sauce or sour cream sauce.
                  In a way, sour cream becomes a sort of sauce for my golabki. When I make it, it's always with mashed potatoes and cucumber salad with sour cream dressing.
                  The best part of the meal is when it all melds together ;-)

                  Can you share your recipe for your sauce?

                  1. re: monavano

                    sorry for the confusion - I didn't mean sauce - we just put sour cream on it and it melts :) so no recipe needed for this!

                    and we eat it with bread only, no side dish - it is a fulfilling dish on its own
                    hope this helps :)

                    1. re: hovirag

                      Got it! Yes, sour cream is a must.
                      Growing up, this meal was a trinity of golabki, mashed potatoes and cuke salad. Keeping that tradition is very comforting and Proustian for me ;-)