Cabbage-Wrapped Meatballs with Sweet Paprika & Tomato Sauce

Cabbage-Rolls-Final_smallOn a recent trip to Hentiesbay I visited a longtime family friend, ‘tannie’ Soekie.  We share a love for cooking and exploring new dishes, and during a Sunday lunch visit she told me about cabbage-wrapped meatballs.  At first I thought it sounds like a typical ‘Afrikaans’ meal, but after a bit of research it turns out there are many international variations of this dish.  Cabbage rolls are a staple in Croatia, and it’s seen as the ultimate comfort food in Poland.

This is my own take on it, mixing up elements of the versions from Poland, Russia, Sweden and Hungary.

Tip:  try to get the largest cabbage possible.  The larger the leaves, the easier it is to roll the parcels.  When the leaves are too small, you have to start ‘patching’ bits and pieces together.

For more recipes like this one, visit The Food Lover’s Blog where I post a new dish every Wednesday.


250g beef mince

250g pork mince

1-2 slices bread, crumbed

1 egg

2-3 tsp crushed garlic

Salt & pepper

Peri-Peri (optional)

Thyme & Rosemary, Oregano/Italian Herb mix

1 large fresh cabbage

1 cup vegetable/beef stock (1 block + 250ml water)

1 medium onion, chopped

1 small can tomato paste

1 medium red/orange pepper (paprika)

½ cup sour cream

Baby potatoes

  1. For the meatballs:  Mix the first 8 ingredients together with your hands.  Roll meatballs (yields ±12) and place in the fridge to set.
  2. Peel off the same number of cabbage leaves – one for each meatball.  Cut away the very hard base of each leaf.  Place together in a large bowl.  Pour boiling water over the leaves, and soak until they are softer and easier to work with – about 10 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, start boiling the baby potatoes and preheat your oven to 190C.
  4. Remove the meatballs from the fridge and roll/fold them each into a cabbage leaf.  Place them, folds down, into a large ovenproof dish.  Pour one tablespoon full of stock over each parcel.  Cover with tinfoil and place in the oven for 25 minutes.
  5. For the sauce: Chop up the pepper and place it in your stick blender’s measuring jug along with the remaining stock.  Zoosh it until it’s all finely blended.
  6. Fry the onion & garlic together in a pan until the onion is soft.  Turn the heat down to medium, add the blended pepper and tomato paste.  Fry for  a minute, then add the sour cream.  Remove from heat.

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