This is one of those Polish recipes that makes a big batch, keeps well, and freezes well — so it’s good to make it on a weekend and enjoy it throughout the week. There are only two minor deviations from the original, traditional recipe but these taste just as good as the real thing. And as skeptical as my mom was about me using cauliflower, I don’t think she’d really be able to sense a difference in flavor.

  • 2 large heads of cabbage
  • 2 to 2 1/2 lbs. pasture-raised ground beef, pork or a combination of the two
  • 1 large head of cauliflower
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbs. butter
  • 2 Tbs. dill
  • 2 tsp. poultry seasoning
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 3-4 cans no-sugar added tomato sauce (I like Trader Joe’s)

In a large pot, boil water and a head of cabbage. At the same time, saute the chopped onion in the butter until clear, about 5 minutes, then set aside to cool slightly.

Put the cauliflower florets in a shallow dish with about 1/2″ of water. Cover and microwave until tender. Drain the florets and let dry for a couple minutes, then put into a food processor and pulse until it’s the consistency of rice. Set aside to cool slightly.

Put 1 cup of tomato sauce in the bottom of a 9 X 13 baking pan.

In a large bowl, combine the raw meat, eggs, cooled onion, seasonings and cauliflower. If the raw meat has been handled properly, you should be able to give it a little taste to check the seasonings. If that worries you, cook about a teaspoon of it in a small frying pan and adjust your seasonings accordingly.

Carefully remove the cabbage head from the boiling water and place it in a colander in the sink. I use a silicone oven mit and a large spoon. Peel off a few layers of the outer leaves (the are darker and tougher than the inner ones) and discard them. You can then cut and remove 4-6 leaves at a time from the head, then put it back into the water to continue cooking. The leaves will be very hot, so be careful! Once they cool, take one and cut the thick part of the spine off. You’ll have kind of a horseshoe-shaped leaf now (see the photo). Put 1/4 to 1/3 cup of meat filling into the middle of the leaf, more or less depending on the size of the leaf. Fold over the top, then fold in the sides and roll it up. Set aside on a clean plate.

If you’re lucky, you can get up to a dozen leaves off one head of cabbage before they become too small to roll. Once that happens, put the next head of cabbage in the boiling water and use the smaller leaves from the first one to line the bottom of your sauced pan. Place the cabbage rolls on top of the sauce and leaves, being sure to pack them tightly so they all fit. They cook low and slow, so don’t worry if they’re really squished in there. Pour almost all of the tomato sauce on top until they are all covered. Put another layer of smaller cabbage leaves over the top, and pour the last of the tomato sauce on top of those.

Cover with a sheet of parchment paper, then a sheet of foil and bake for about an hour at 350 degrees. You may want to go longer if your pan is really packed, or shorter if you had a smaller batch. Also, the cabbage will continue to soften as it cooks so if you like firmer cabbage, 45 minutes should do it — the meat will still be cooked through.

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