Marina’s Stuffed Cabbage Recipe

Get wrapped up in a recipe for stuffed cabbage that has deep roots in one woman’s immigration story.

Photo by Getty Images/Nataly Hanin

Filled with lamb, beef, and rice, and smothered in a deeply flavored tomato cream sauce, this cabbage dish is worth the effort. Marina cooks a large batch, then saves the leftover cabbage leaves to make “Lazy Man’s” stuffed cabbage another day: Instead of stuffing the cabbage, she sautés it with the meat and covers it with sauce for a quicker and easier alternative!

Yield: 8 to 10 servings.


  • 2 medium green cabbages
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 large carrots, grated on the large holes of a box grater (about 2 cups)
  • 1 large onion, finely minced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1 pound 90 percent lean ground beef
  • 1-1⁄2 cups cooked medium-grain rice
  • 1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon coarse salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 4 cups tomato sauce
  • 2 cups sour cream


  1. Bring 8 cups water to a boil in a large pot. Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl.
  2. Pierce the base of 1 cabbage with a large fork and use it to lower the cabbage into the boiling water for 3 minutes. Remove the cabbage from the water, and plunge it into the ice bath; keep the water at a boil.
  3. Lift the cabbage out of the ice bath and begin removing the leaves, setting them on a plate to dry.
  4. Once you reach layers that resist easy removal, lower the cabbage into the boiling water again for another 3 minutes. Remove, plunge it into the ice bath, and peel off the rest of the leaves. Repeat with the remaining head of cabbage.
  5. Shave down the rib of each cabbage leaf to make it more pliable. Only the larger leaves should be used for stuffing. The very small, inner core leaves can be saved for another use, such as Marina’s Lazy Man version.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  7. While the leaves dry, heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the carrots and onion, and cook until the onion is translucent and the carrot begins to brown slightly, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool. Divide the mixture in half.
  8. Combine the lamb, beef, and rice in a large bowl. Add half of the carrot mixture, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, the dill, and the cilantro. Mix thoroughly.
  9. Take a large cabbage leaf and lay it rib side down. Pile 2 heaping tablespoons of the meat mixture at one side. Fold in the two sides and roll up the leaf. Repeat until all the mixture has been used.
  10. Set the stuffed cabbages in rows in two 9-by-13-inch baking dishes.
  11. Whisk together the reserved carrot mixture, tomato sauce, sour cream, and remaining salt and pepper. Pour over the stuffed cabbage.
  12. Bake uncovered for 40 minutes. Spoon the excess sauce in the bottom of the dish over the stuffed cabbages, and serve.

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Anna Francese Gass is a graduate of The French Culinary Institute in New York, a regular contributing editor and recipe tester for Food52, and a contributing writer for MSN. She’s assisted on numerous successful cookbooks as a recipe tester. This is excerpted from her book Heirloom Kitchen: Heritage Recipes and Family Stories from the Tables of Immigrant Women (Harper Design).



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