Stuffed cabbage is one of those quintessential, Eastern European Jewish comfort foods enjoyed at holidays and special occasions.
But did you know that the origins of stuffed cabbage can be traced across Europe, Russia, the Balkans, and as far east as Iran and Northern China! In Europe, it’s commonly stuffed with ground beef, pork (for non-Jews) or lamb, grains like rice or barley, and seasoned with onions, garlic, paprika and cumin. The cabbage rolls aren’t just about the filling though; the tomato sauce they’re cooked in is just as important. With the addition of pickled vegetables and some sugar, for example, the sauce can be sweet-and-sour, or with more tomatoes and herbs the sauce can be savory.
Food historian Gil Marks, author of the Encyclopedia of Jewish Food, wrote that stuffed cabbage rolls entered Jewish cooking 2,000 years ago in Iran, and spread throughout Europe and to Russia with the migration of Jews throughout history. It’s especially popular to eat stuffed cabbage rolls on Simchat Torah, when it’s customary to eat foods that resemble the rolled scrolls of the Torah.
Try one of these delicious stuffed cabbage recipes, vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options included!