Authentic cabbage rolls from Bulgaria are easy to make and are a guaranteed way to give some great taste to a vegetable that is exceedingly healthy but is often much-maligned. Traditional Bulgarian food at its best and true comfort food!
Lightly-spiced, ground meat is enveloped with cabbage leaves and then slow-cooked in a tomato-based sauce to permit all of the flavors to develop. You basically end up with steamed cabbage rolls, a very healthy cooking methods. Add a little refreshing dill at the end and you are guaranteed to receive rave reviews from all of the family.
This is perfect comfort food with fall/autumn approaching. Not too heavy a meal but warming enough to satisfy you with the coming change of season. It is also a great dish for increasing the intake of cabbage for the whole family. You will find authentic cabbage rolls everywhere throughout Bulgaria. It is traditional Bulgarian food, as it is throughout all of Eastern Europe.
People have been living in Bulgaria continuously since the stone age so it is not surprising it has a fine tradition of food and wine. But who would know? For some unfathomable reason, Bulgarian cuisine receives no kudos, with neighbors Greece and Turkey, receiving all the media attention. The country that has given the world the bacterium responsible for the world-wide popularity of yogurt is routinely ignored.
Read on to discover why you should pay some attention to Bulgarian wine, as well as Bulgarian cuisine.
Bulgarian Wine Culture Dates Back to the Stone Age
Bulgaria has a long history of food and wine. Bulgaria produces fabulous, great value wine in Melnik, not far from Bansko. And indeed archaeologists have discovered evidence of wine making dating back to the Stone Age!
And it is not only wine, how about mastika? A liquor which is 47% proof and is derived from tree resin. It is a small evergreen shrub endemic to the Mediterranean region. Tree resin you say? No way? Isn’t tree resin the basis of maple syrup? Trust me on this, Bulgarian mastika is just as good as Turkish raki or Greek ouzo, it is just that we never hear about it.
And of course not to be outdone by the Turks, Bulgaria makes a fabulous Rakia, a brandy like drink made from distilled fruit, served at the start of a meal with the shopska salad. The toast is “Nazdrave” meaning to your health! We love those Bulgarian traditions!
Looking for something less alcoholic and healthy? How about the fabulous buza (called boza in other countries). A fermented, wheat drink, coming in at a very low alcohol content of 1%, just perfect for that morning pick me up!
And then there is the totally non-alcolholic Aryan. A yogurt-based drink popular also in Turkey. It is really good for you. It was available everywhere in Bulgaria and it was delicious.
With regards to Bulgarian cuisine, we have already written about Bulgarian yogurt and feta (routinely acknowledged as the world’s most superior) in previous posts. The famous, shopska salad just goes perfectly with rakia and then there is Bulgarian moussaka, made with potato and a yogurt-based topping instead of eggplant and béchamel sauce.
Bulgarian cuisine is full of many other, tasty dishes. It’s an ancient cuisine, so maybe they know a thing or two about how to cook food. Bulgarian food deserves a little more attention.
With that in mind, let’s move onto our easy stuffed cabbage rolls recipe.
Authentic Cabbage Rolls from Bulgaria
These inexpensive, authentic cabbage rolls from Bulgaria are real comfort food, without being too heavy, perfect for an easy to make fall or autumn family dinner.
If you are looking for your children to eat more green vegetables, the mildly-spiced mince stuffing is just the thing to get them excited over cabbage! Although not traditional in Bulgaria, I have opted to use smoked paprika for something a little different. Together with the tomato-based sauce, these easy stuffed cabbage rolls will have your children coming back for more.
What to eat with cabbage rolls? In this case, I’m not sure they need any accompaniments! Given the stuffed cabbage leaves, pork mince filling (including rice and onions) as well as the tomato sauce, authentic cabbage rolls from Bulgaria are really a complete meal in themselves.
Can you freeze cabbage rolls? The jury is still out on that one. Some cooks claim, when you freeze cabbage rolls you end up with a watery mess, while others say you can successfully freeze them, provided you cool them first in the refrigerator, and once cold, place them in the freezer. You do the reverse to thaw them out in the refrigerator, before you gently re-heat them.
Personally, we do not freeze cabbage rolls. There are never any left to freeze! Seriously though, if we have leftover cabbage rolls, we allow them to cool down before placing them in the refrigerator. We prefer to eat the leftovers within 2 or 3 days, as they make an easy lunch to either take to work or enjoy at home.
Other Stuffed Vegetable Recipes
In addition to these authentic cabbage rolls, we feature some other stuffed vegetable recipes on Compass and Fork. I personally think, stuffed vegetable recipes are one of the best ways to increase your child’s veggie intake. In addition, they make wonderful winter warmer comfort foods.
The combination of eggplant and lamb mince is sublime in Turkish Stuffed Eggplants. A delightful meal, which you can also make with beef mince.
And for an appetizer, why not try baked stuffed zucchini flowers (or squash blossoms)? There not as difficult as you might think!