Winter Calls for Comfort Food: Polish Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Photo: Tasha Brickhouse

A traditional Polish dish, stuffed cabbage rolls can be a winning, hearty meal full of vegetables, whole grains and lean protein. This version includes brown rice and lean ground beef, a good dose of lycopene from diced tomatoes and marinara sauce, and is topped with a mixture of cheese and panko breadcrumbs for added pizzazz.

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls Tweet this

Recipe by Tasha Brickhouse


  • 1 head white cabbage
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 pound raw lean ground meat (at least 85-percent lean)
  • ¾ cup finely diced yellow onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced or pressed in a garlic press
  • 6 white mushrooms (5 ounces), diced
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon dried basil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 25 ounces marinara sauce
  • 1 15-ounce can petite diced tomatoes
  • ½ cup shredded mozzarella
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan
  • ¼ cup panko bread crumbs


  1. First, remove cabbage leaves from the head by using a sturdy paring knife to cut a deep circle around the stem of the cabbage. Bring a stockpot of water to boil and place the cabbage head into the boiling water. After approximately 3 to 5 minutes, the outer leaves will soften and can be removed with tongs and set aside to be filled. The inner leaves may require additional boiling to release from the head.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine brown rice, raw ground beef, onion, garlic, mushrooms, oregano, basil, salt, soy sauce and red pepper flakes. Use a large fork or freshly washed hands to make sure ingredients are evenly distributed.
  3. Add olive oil to a large unheated skillet with a cover.
  4. Place one cabbage leaf on a work surface. Add approximately 2 tablespoons of the filling to the stem end of the cabbage leaf. Fold the left and right sides of the leaf in towards the center, then begin to roll the leaf, starting at the stem and filling end. Place the cabbage roll, fold side down, into the skillet.
  5. Continue with remaining cabbage leaves and filling.
  6. Arrange rolls to fill the surface of the skillet, adding a second layer if necessary.
  7. Add marinara sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet, coating each cabbage roll.
  8. Cover the skillet with a lid and cook on medium-low heat for approximately 50 minutes.
  9. Preheat oven to broil.
  10. Combine grated mozzarella, Parmesan cheese and panko breadcrumbs. Remove cover from skillet and sprinkle cheese-and-breadcrumb mixture over the cabbage rolls.
  11. Place the skillet, uncovered, under broiler for 2 to 4 minutes, or until cheese and breadcrumbs turn golden brown. Remove, cool for 10 minutes and serve. Makes approximately 16 rolls and serves 8.
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Tasha Brickhouse
Tasha Brickhouse is a distance dietetics student at Eastern Michigan University's coordinated program in dietetics.