Golabki: Polish Stuffed Cabbage Rolls Recipe

For Poles Golabki need no introduction. It’s always on Polish tables regardless of which part of the country you’re coming from, and the recipe is always pretty much the same.

It turns out that in the US Polish cabbage rolls are dominated by Martha Stewart recipe. If you didn’t know, Martha Stewart is actually a third-generation American but entirely of Polish heritage since both of her grandparents arrived at Ellis Island from Poland at the beginning of the XXth century.

Her father actually traveled back and forth to Europe from the US on Batory ship – which my own grandfather used to work on.

Anyway, Martha’s recipe slightly varies from the old traditional recipe for Golabki. It’s not better or worse, it’s just slightly different since they’re baked, not stewed.

Why is Polish Stuffed Cabbage Called Gołąbki – Little Pigeons?

First things first, where did the name of this dish come from? It’s most likely borrowed from Ukranian „hołubci” (gołąbek – single) at the beginning of the XIXth century.

The actual story behind what was inside golabki at first varies. Some sources claim that there were actually stuffed pigeons wrapped in cabbage on royal courts in France and Poles got jealous of it, since for decades stuffed pigeons and other birds like swans were considered a fancy dish.

Other sources think it’s because in Slavic languages they liked to use names of birds and animals for dishes made of potatoes or bread.

Either way, the middle-class made the dish famous by stuffing cabbage with what they had – kasza (buckwheat) and potatoes. There was no meat or rice in this dish before, like it’s eaten today.


Polish Stuffed Cabbage Rolls Recipe Pointers:

  • Keep checking on the cabbage while you’re cooking it. Some types take a bit longer to cook.
  • If you don’t want to make your own tomato sauce you can use a regular pasta sauce.

Golabki - Polish Cabbage Rolls

Golabki - Polish Cabbage Rolls

Ingredients

  • Large cabbage head
  • 1.3 lbs of minced meat
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup of cooked rice
  • 8-12 oz of Veggie bouillon
  • Salt, Pepper, Marjorie
  • SAUCE:
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1 tablespoon of flour
  • 2 cups of tomato puree
  • Salt, Pepper, Sugar

Instructions

    1. Cook the rice, then chop onion and garlic and gently fry it on a pan. Once it's all ready wait for it to cool down.
    2. Meanwhile, hollow the cabbage, then transfer to a big pot and boil for 10-15 minutes.
    3. Remove the cooked cabbage, separate the leaves and cut out thick ribs out of each big leaf. Place small leaves and those that ripped in the process at the bottom of your giant pot again to avoid burning.
    4. In a large bowl mix meat, cooked onion and garlic, rice, with salt, pepper and marjorie.
    5. Put the stuffing on each cabbage leaf and roll the cabbage rolls. Make sure they are tightly compressed. Then place the rolls in your giant pot again.
    6. Cover it with veggie bouillon and cook for about 35-40 minutes.
    7. While the golabki are cooking, prepare the sauce. In a saucepan melt the butter and when it's melted, slowly add the flour.
    8. Then pour in a cup of the boiled billion from the pot with golabki. Bring to boil, then add tomato puree. Bring to boil again and season with salt, pepper and desired spices.
    9. Serve with mashed potatoes.

Notes

This recipe can be easily made vegetarian by replacing minced meat with lentils and soybeans. Alternatively, you can also add finely chopped mushrooms - whether it's meat or veggie option.

16 Comments

  1. This brings back so much memory! I remember making this meal with the grandma of my Polish friend. Sadly I never got the recipe written down. I am so excited to use your recipe to make this meal again. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Nicole Anderson

    I have heard of this but haven’t tried it as yet, and didn’t know this was a polish dish. It does sound quite yummy and I like how you have laid it out in such an easy-to-follow way here. Looking forward to giving this a go and hope it will come out OK.

  3. Maritime Meg

    I’ve never actually had cabbage rolls before – but my fiancé loves them! I’m going to try them out and try this recipe, they look absolutely delicious! Thank you for sharing!

  4. This looks like a great dinner or lunch idea! Using cabbage instead of dough is healthy and saves calories too.

  5. If there’s something I suck at, it’s making food. But even I should be able to follow your well detailed and explained recipe. Looks so good, NY the way.

  6. Jolie Canoli

    Wow, these look delicious!!!! Yummm. I’ll be making this soon!

  7. this is a typical menu in the cruise ship..as a chef i can do this in a matter of time without reading a recipie..you can also used the same mixture for a stuffed bell peppers

  8. Renata Green

    How fun – this is very European, I think. I know this dish and its variations from many rather East European countries, but even in Germany, they know Kohlrouladen 😉

  9. This was my best meal when I was in Poland a few months ago. We stayed for two weeks and I stuffed myself with this meal every day. hahaha

  10. I am not a fan of cabbage but your photo looks mouthwateringly delicious that I would love to try one. Thank you for the recipe – going to try them out one of these days.

  11. This looks super delicious! I also love how detailed and simple your recipe is, gotta try this one

  12. A great recipe and now I have idea of what to make for dinner ~ would love to see more pictures about each step you are making the dish 🙂

  13. Russia has similar dish, it’s very exotic to me and taste oddly. but I do think it might be a great lunch idea to a busy day

  14. Blair Villanueva

    We always have cabbages at home (we love it coz it is full of water!) and this recipe is perfect timing. I would love to make as well at home using your recipe. Thanks dear!

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