Beef Cabbage Rolls Recipe

Savoy cabbage is mild in flavour and doesn’t lose its colour or texture after being simmered. Serve up these succulent rolls during Hanukkah or as a warm, comforting winter dinner.

1 head green Savoy cabbage, core removed
1/2 cup orzo (or any small-shaped pasta)
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1/3 cup chopped onion
1 tsp minced fresh garlic
8 oz. lean ground beef
3 tbsp barbecue sauce
2 tsp dried basil
1 egg
Pinch salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 can (28 oz.) tomatoes, with juice
3 tbsp packed brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup raisins (any variety)
3 tbsp chopped fresh basil or parsley


Step 1: Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the whole cabbage for 20-25 minutes; drain. When it’s cool enough to handle, separate the leaves carefully. Set aside 8 leaves.

Step 2: Cook the orzo in a pot of boiling water for 8-10 minutes, until the pasta is tender but firm. Drain and rinse under cold running water. Drain again and set aside.

Step 3: Spray a non-stick skillet with cooking oil. Add the mushrooms, onion and garlic and cook over medium-high heat for 7 minutes, or until slightly browned. Transfer to a bowl. Add the orzo, ground beef, barbecue sauce, 1 tsp of the dried basil, egg, salt and pepper; mix well.

Step 4: Place about 1/3 cup of the beef-orzo mixture in the centre of a cabbage leaf. Fold in the sides and roll it up. Repeat with the remaining filling.

Step 5: Combine the tomatoes and juice, brown sugar, remaining 1 tsp dried basil, water and lemon juice in a food processor; purée. Add the raisins, and pour the mixture into a large non-stick saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low.

Step 6: Add the cabbage rolls and cook, covered, for 1 hour and 15 minutes, turning the rolls over at the halfway point through the cooking. Serve hot, garnished with the fresh basil.

Reprinted with permission from Rose Reisman’s The Complete Light Kitchen (2007 Whitecap Books).