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Easy Russian Cabbage Rolls…Galuptsi….Голубцы

An easy Russian cabbage roll recipe that is healthy and bursting with flavors!  Plus it’s super freezer friendly making it ideal for those nights when there is no time for a healthy dinner!  

"Galuptsi" - Traditional Russian Cabbage Rolls...Голубцы

There are certain nights when it’s bone chilling cold and all I want is a comfort food from the old country.  One like mom used to make in the brisk winters in Moldova.
My answer is typically something hearty and warm.  Something that will warm my innards up and remind me of simpler times in my childhood. Enter galubtsi.  Galuptsi are stuffed Russian cabbage rolls.  But these are not those tomato sauce and ketchup soaked, stinky cabbage rolls.  These are delicate, tender and most importantly delicious. Every Eastern European country has their own way of making stuffed cabbage. My mother used to make it the Moldovian/Romanian way, with lots of greenery like parsley, dill, scallions and cubes of beef and she incorporated a bit of the middle eastern influence and used grape leaves and cabbage leaves to wrap the filling in.  They were more like a dolmade rather than typical galuptsi.

"Galuptsi" - Traditional Russian Cabbage Rolls...Голубцы

When I started dating my husband, I realized how different our food was even though we spoke the same language. His parents made the “Galuptsi” using only cabbage leaves and stuffed them with ground pork, a bit of rice, cooked carrots and onions. Whereas my mother’s galuptsi fell apart when you cut into them, my husband’s parents’ were one big oval shaped ball, but they were tender and delicious! Completely different but sooo good! Since my hubby grew up on this food I decided to please his palate and make them for him this way.  I made this recipe a few years ago and since then, I have changed the recipe up a bit.  I use a combination of ground dark turkey meat and ground chicken.  I also add in brown rice instead of white rice and I find it makes no difference whatsoever in the flavor profile or the texture.

"Galuptsi" - Traditional Russian Cabbage Rolls...Голубцы

When I introduce this cabbage roll recipe to friends and clients, they instantly back away because they become intimidated at its complexity.  However, I think people forget that there is a difference between complicated and time consuming.  Complicated is a multi color clown made out of sugar.  This is not like that.  This does take a bit of time.  However, the beauty of this cabbage roll recipe is that it freezes amazingly well.  In fact, there were several times that I made it ahead of time on purpose, because it tasted so much better defrosted.

(Psst, this is precisely the reason that it is included in my Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur Dinner Menu Plan.  This recipe is traditionally made with pork and turkey HOWEVER for the high holidays I make them with turkey and chicken thighs and it is ALWAYS A HIT)

Therefore keep in mind with this cabbage roll recipe in particular makes a very large batch.  Make it one night…then freeze half or all or some.  And when it’s time to reheat, just place it in a nice slow oven and reheat it slowly. Serve them with a dollop of sour cream, some crusty bread and a simple cucumber, tomato and red onion salad and I promise you and your family  will be asking for more!

"Galuptsi" - Traditional Russian Cabbage Rolls...Голубцы

I start this recipe the night before.  My mom taught me a really neat trick way back when.

Instead of boiling the head of cabbage, for the cabbage rolls, throw it into the freezer the night before making this recipe.  Then thaw it out in the morning the following day.  You will have perfect, pliable cabbage leaves, ready to be rolled.

I use my Vitamix for the carrot and onions.  You can also use your shredder attachment on a food processor or grate them on a box grater.  If using a Vitamix you are going to want to do the wet chop method: Throw all your carrots and onions in the Vitamix and fill up with water until all veggies are covered.  Pulse on high until everything is shredded nicely.

Turkey Galuptsi Vitamix

Now pour into a strainer to get rid of the water.

Place a tablespoon of olive in a heavy bottomed pot and place your veggies in there over medium heat.  Sprinkle in some salt and pepper.  Sweat them out for about 15 minutes.  You do not want them to brown you just want them to get aromatic and soft. Turkey and Pork Galuptsi-001

In the meantime, separate your cabbage leaves one from the other.  If you end up having some leftover in the end, you will just use them on top as a blanket for the rolls.  You are going to want to cut out the stem at the bottom where it is the toughest in a V shape.  (Sorry pic got erased)

After the veggies have sweated out for a bit, add in your dill, tomato puree and sour cream; stir to combine.  See how creamy it’s getting?  That’s what you want.  That will help hold the mix together as well as add killer flavor.

Turkey and Pork Galuptsi-001

Place this on a flat plate or bowl and let cool in the freezer for 10 minutes.  Once cool to the touch, combine 3/4 of the vegetable mix, rice, turkey, chicken and seasoning.

Turkey and Pork Galuptsi-001

Mix everything together so it is well mixed.  Take a small piece and fry on a small pan to taste for seasoning.  Add in as necessary. Take one cabbage leave and place about 2 tablespoons of the meat mixture in the middle.  If the leaves are smaller, you can place 1 tablespoon.  Look at the picture see how there is a “v” cut out.  That was the hard part of the stem that I removed.

Turkey and Pork Galuptsi-008

Take the middle part of the leaf and cover up the meat with it.

Turkey and Pork Galuptsi-008

Now, take the two ends and fold them inwards. 224-216-9528Turkey and pork Galuptsi-010

And now just roll it up like a burrito. Turkey and pork Galuptsi-010

Do the same for the rest, placing them tightly in the pot.  Cover with boiling water so that they are covered about halfway and top with the remaining veggie mixture.

Turkey and pork Galuptsi-010

If you have remaining cabbage leaves you can layer them on top.  Cover with a lid or with aluminum foil and place into a 325-degree oven and cook for 1.5-2 hours or until meat is nice and tender.  You can do this on the stove top as well.  Do not let them boil as they can unravel. "Galuptsi" - Traditional Russian Cabbage Rolls...Голубцы

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"Galuptsi" - Traditional Russian Cabbage Rolls...Голубцы

Easy Russian Cabbage Rolls…Galuptsi….Голубцы


  • Author: Mila Furman

Description

An easy Russian cabbage roll recipe that is healthy and bursting with flavors! Plus it’s super freezer friendly making it ideal for those nights when there is no time for a healthy dinner!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1.5 Pounds Ground Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs
  • 1.5 Pounds Ground Turkey
  • 1 Cup Cooked Rice
  • 12 Large Carrots
  • 4 Large Onions
  • 1 Cup Tomato Puree
  • 1 Cup Sour Cream
  • 2 tablespoons of Dill
  • 1 Large Head of Cabbage (frozen the night before and thawed the morning the recipe will be made)
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste

Instructions

  1. I start this recipe the night before. My mom taught me a really neat trick way back when. Instead of boiling the head of cabbage, throw it into the freezer the night before making this recipe. Then thaw it out in the morning the following day. You will have perfect, pliable cabbage leaves, ready to be rolled.
  2. I use my Vitamix for the carrot and onions. You can also use your shredder attachment on a food processor or grate them on a box grater. If using a Vitamix you are going to want to do the wet chop method:
  3. Throw all your carrots and onions in the Vitamix and fill up with water until all veggies are covered. Pulse on high until everything is shredded nicely.
  4. Now pour into a strainer to get rid of the water. Place a tablespoon of olive in a heavy bottomed pot and place your veggies in there over medium heat. Sprinkle in some salt and pepper. Sweat them out for about 15 minutes. You do not want them to brown you just want them to get aromatic and soft.
  5. In the meantime, separate your cabbage leaves one from the other. If you end up having some leftover in the end, you will just use them on top as a blanket for the rolls. You are going to want to cut out the stem at the bottom where it is the toughest in a V shape. (Sorry pic got erased)
  6. After the veggies have sweated out for a bit, add in your dill, tomato puree and sour cream; stir to combine. See how creamy it’s getting? That’s what you want. That will help hold the mix together as well as add killer flavor.
  7. Place this on a flat plate or bowl and let cool in the freezer for 10 minutes. Once cool to the touch, combine 3/4 of the vegetable mix, rice, turkey, pork and seasoning.
  8. Mix everything together so it is well mixed. Take a small piece and fry on a small pan to taste for seasoning. Add in as necessary.
  9. Take one cabbage leave and place about 2 tablespoons of the meat mixture in the middle. If the leaves are smaller, you can place 1 tablespoon. Look at the picture see how there is a “v” cut out. That was the hard part of the stem that I removed.
  10. Take the middle part of the leaf and cover up the meat with it.
  11. Now, take the two ends and fold them inwards.
  12. And now just roll it up like a burrito.
  13. Do the same for the rest, placing them tightly in the pot. Cover with boiling water so that they are covered about halfway and top with the remaining veggie mixture.
  14. If you have remaining cabbage leaves you can layer them on top. Cover with a lid or with aluminum foil and place into a 325-degree oven and cook for 1.5-2 hours or until meat is nice and tender.
  • Category: dinner, Easy, freezer friendly
  • Cuisine: Russian, Ukranian

Moist, flavorful and super healthy stuffed cabbage rolls. Crockpot and super Freezer Friendly!!!

“Originally posted February 3rd 2014”

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42 Comments

  1. Pinning this one too! My husband is part Lebanese and they have their own version of stuffed cabbage but I am excited to try this one as well! And it’s great to hear they freeze well too…with our schedule we are always trying to make extra and freeze another meal!

    1. Me too Michelle!!! I’m actually doing my meal planning post as we speak that talks all about my freezer cooking! Hopefully I can get it together soon!

  2. Thank you so much for sharing. These are my favorite and now I have a recipe to try them on my own. I’m definitely pinning this! Also, great tip for getting those cabbage leaves pliable. I’ve always boiled them, but this sounds easier. (And I won’t burn my fingers!)

  3. This dish was the one I missed the most from my grandma’s cooking. Now I am glad that I can make it when I crave it. It takes some planning and time, but really not that hard. Mila gives all the tricks to make this manageable for a beginner like me.

    1. Thank you Sally!!! I love these too!!! I can eat them ALL the time! Do make sure you make a bit extra so that you freeze them

  4. Stuffed cabbage rolls is one of my Dad’s favourites! He’s coming to visit this year and I am SO excited because he would LOOOOVE this dish! It looks so beautiful too Mila, I would have to make it before he comes too 🙂
    I love the tip of freezing the cabbage! I’ve had a hard time with cabbage rolls before and hated having to steam the cabbage! This saves more time and it’s easier!!

    1. Dini!!! My mother in law made these for the day after party for my wedding… She froze them 3 weeks in advance… I cannot explain to you how tender and delish they were!!!

    1. John! Thank you for your kind words! It truly takes pure simplicity sometimes to make comfort food great!

  5. Mila, I LOVED reading this post! You passion for this really shines and I love it, really love it. And you are right – pork fat IS KING!!! 🙂

    Your step by steps are fantastic. I love that you’ve shown relevant steps and not meaningless ones, if you know what I mean. Everyone knows how to sauce onions. Not many know how to roll cabbage!! 🙂

  6. Mila, you’re making my stomach growl! I absolutely love cabbage rolls, they’re such a fantastic comfort food! It’s been far too long since I last made them though, thank you for this fabulous recipe – making for sure!

  7. I got used to food a little bit similar to this when I lived in Greece, Mila, and loved it! I didn’t know you were from Moldova! There’s some fantastic food in E. Europe!
    I’m sure these take a bit of practice but the ingredients list isn’t too long, which gives me a bit of confidence. Thanks so much for showing me how these are done!

    1. Helen… All my boyfriends were Greek growing up… And my friends… And my hairdresser is Greek… So I feel a real connection to the Greeks 😉 dying to go to santorini!

  8. Hi! I’m so excited to try this recipe as I’ve always been intimidated by golubtsi. You said “large batch” about how many rolls do you usually get from this recipe? Thanks!

  9. I fell in love with dolmades when I lived in Greece (although they had to be done right without the sauce being too gloopy!) – these look amazing, Mila, and I just love how easy they seem. Thanks for the step by step – they don’t seem daunting at all now!
    Just one question (more philosophical than anything) – how come they don’t unroll while cooking? 🙂

    1. Helen did you know I love your comments 🙂 always so full of life.
      My moms “galuptsi”were more like dolmade, definitely got to make them for the blog :).
      They don’t unroll because you put them seem side down and you never let the water boil. If it boils then that causes them to unroll. Trust me I’ve done it many times 😉

    1. Amy! There is a comment that says that for the holidays I always make sure to use turkey and chicken! I would have been mortified if you thought that was the truth 🙂 Thanks for letting me know!

  10. This was way harder than I thought it would be. I cooked the cabbage in my instant pot for 15 minutes and the leaves were so soggy and nearly impossible to roll and peel off. I was very sad about my failed attempt.

  11. This is an amazing recipe!
    Just one thing, not sure if it’s something i’m Doing wrong, but I always seem to end up with an inordinate amount of veggies in ratio to meat. Any ideas?

    1. Interesting! You must have large carrots!!!! Just put more on top!!! Or add it to more ground meat and throw them in a soup!!!!

  12. Absolutely love stuffed cabbage but have always used the tomato sauce version. THIS sounds different and so delicious… just one question… when you put them in the pot you cover halfway with boiling water,then put the rest of the vegetable mixture over them and lastly cover with leftover leaves. How does this come out? Are the rolls meant to simmer in boiling water? Do they still come out flavorful from adding the vegetable mixture on top? Would it be more flavorful to use boiling chicken broth? I’ve never seen the rolls cooked this way and am wondering what the rationale is… thanks so much…

    1. Hi Geri! This is the way I have been doing it for years and the way my father in law taught me 🙂 So I would say it’s pretty awesome 🙂 I have never done it with chicken broth and I am not sure how much more flavor it would actually add but please try it out and let me know!

  13. Hi Mila
    Looks delicious!
    Do you have a suggestion for making this dairy free without sour cream?
    Thanks
    Sonya

    1. My apologies! I am just seeing this! I would honestly just leave it out…I have not found any good non-dairy sour cream out there sadly.

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