Cabbage Recipes

Romanian Cabbage Rolls (Sarmale)

For Romanians, it’s not Christmas without cabbage rolls! So, here is a traditional recipe for you to try this year. Go easy on the servings, as this isn’t necessarily a low-calorie dish… For a really good recipe, also check out Jo’s blog:

  • 2 jars of brined cabbage (see your local Eastern European grocery store)
  • 2 lbs. ground meat (combination of pork and beef or pork and turkey if you prefer)
  • 6 slices of bacon (smoked bacon or ham would also work)
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 3/4 cup short grain rice
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 TBS tomato paste
  • 2 tsps smoked paprika
  • 1 TBS fresh dill & thyme, chopped, or to taste (alternatively, ask for cimbru at any Eastern European grocery store)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Either buy or save the left over cabbage leaves

Save the juice from the cabbage jar

Liquid to cover sarmale:

  • 3-4 TBS tomato paste mixed with 1 cup water
  • sauerkraut juice and/or lemon juice to taste
  • extra water, enough to cover cabbage rolls
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • dill
  • thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste

Makes about 35-40 medium size stuffed cabbage rolls.

  • Unroll the leaves and cut out the cores (you will cut each leaf roughly in half); set aside.
  • Cut bacon into strips and fry it until it’s almost crispy but don’t overcook it. Remove bacon from fat and set aside.
  • Sauté the onion until soft and golden. Add rice and cook for a minute. Add the tomato paste, paprika, 1/2 cup water and dill & thyme/cimbru and stir. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  • Season the ground meat with salt and pepper.  Add onion/rice mixture to ground meat and mix it well.
  • Place 1-1.5 TBS of meat mixture at the bottom of the leaf and roll once to encase the filling. Tuck in the endings.
  • Chop the left over leaves and the cores.  Place some of the shredded cabbage on the bottom of a large pot (Dutch oven preferably, 6 qt.).  Arrange a layer of stuffed rolls on top of the shredded cabbage and continue to do a second layer ending with shredded cabbage on top. Place bay leaves on top and extra dill & thyme/cimbru to taste.
  • Combine the tomato paste with about 1 cup of water and pour over the entire contents.
  • Add some juice from the cabbage jar.  Add enough water to barely cover the stuffed rolls.
  • Cover pot and cook on low for 2-3 hours.  Watch from time to time as you might need to add more water towards the last hour of cooking.
  • You can then uncover and bake for about 30 minutes at 350F (optional).

Serve with polenta and a dollop of sour cream.

Sarah’s Comfort Food: Golden Milk

Sarah Crook is the founder of Be Well Knoxville ( She is a Licensed Massage Therapist, Registered Yoga Teacher, and Holistic Health Coach.

I love this recipe: it’s filling when I want something sweet but I don’t want to eat again if it’s too late in the day. The main ingredient in Golden Milk is turmeric. Turmeric contains curcumin, the polyphenol identified as its primary active component and which exhibits over 150 potentially therapeutic activities, including high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. With the addition of black pepper, the bioavailability (ability for the body to absorb) of these healing properties increases significantly.

For one serving you will need:  

  • One cup milk (cow’s milk, almond milk or coconut milk beverage)
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 3/4- 1 teaspoon honey 
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (or a few cardamom pods)
  • A pinch of powdered ginger or small piece of peeled ginger root (optional)
  • A dash of vanilla extract
  • A dash of black pepper or black peppercorns (if desired)
  • A pinch of cloves (if desired)
  • A pinch of allspice (if desired)

Strainer or sieve

  1. Heat the milk on the stove. When milk becomes warm, add turmeric powder. Stir slowly to dissolve any lumps. The liquid will take on a rich, mustard color.            
  2. Add the honey, ginger root, vanilla and spices.        
  3. Keep the pot on gentle heat for a few minutes.        
  4. Pour the milk through a fine sieve to remove the ginger root, cardamom and pepper. (The turmeric can be a bit grainy, too.)        
  5. Enjoy! All ingredients can be adjusted for individual tastes!  

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