Russian Friday – Stuffed Cabbage

Funny, my last post got record number of views since I started this blog.  I am guessing that half of the Internet is jealous about The Awesomest Neighbor!  Ladies don’t get your hopes up, Milton is happily married and not planning to move to the East Coast! The good news: he did like the healthy dessert!


Today’s recipe has gained only my husband’s seal of approval so far.  He is my severest critic (“If I’m going to eat this for the rest of my life, I better be straightforward”).  This guy learned to be brutally honest the hard way.  The very hard way…  When we just started dating, we went to see Madame Butterfly together.  I believe his initial review contained the words “beautiful” and “the most romantic story”…  He endured three more such outings until he couldn’t tolerate it anymore and confessed that he hated opera.

So, no “Madame Butterfly” in our kitchen. 

Traditionally these Russian “golubtsy” are made with minced beef or pork stuffing, but I experimented with a healthier alternative that has a lighter, earthier feeling to it.

Print this recipe



  • 1 large cabbage
  • 1 cup of brown rice, cooked
  • 1 cup of sprouted garbanzo beans
  • 1 cup of sprouted sweet peas
  • 1 cup of sprouted wheat berries
  • 1,5 cup walnuts, shelled
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 egg
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 30 oz diced tomatoes
  • 2 sticks of celery , chopped
  • ¼ cup of olives, pitted and sliced
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp marjoram
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • 2 bay leafs
  • 1 bunch of basil, chopped,  divided
  • Olive oil for sautéing


In a large pot boil enough water to cover the cabbage.

Prepare the filling: process beans, peas, wheat berries, walnuts, and garlic through a meat grinder or in a food processor.  Sauté onion and carrot till the onion is golden and soft; add them to the grounded mixture.  Add the egg, rice, salt, and pepper and mix the filling until consistent.

Prepare the wrapper: cook the cabbage in the boiling water for about 5 minutes.  Remove it from the pot.  Carefully peel the soft leaves from the cabbage.  Once you reach the leaves that are still pretty firm, put the cabbage back into the boiling water, and repeat the process until all large leaves are removed.  Gently trim off the thick parts located on the bottom center of the leaves.

Make golubtsy by placing a generous helping of the filling on the leaves and gently folding it inside like in an envelope.

Lightly sauté golubtsy seam down to seal the joints for about 2 mintues.

Gently place them on a bottom of a pot.  Chop the remaining cabbage and cover the golubtsy with it.  Top with the tomatoes, celery, and olives. Layer half of basil.

Mix water with spices and salt and pepper and pour the mixture over the vegetables, add bay leaves.

Cover the pot, turn the heat to medium, and bring the dish to boil.  On low heat boil for about 10 minutes, covered.

Garnish with remaining basil. Traditionally this dish is served with sour cream.  My opera fan likes to add hot sauce as well.

On the scale from “Madame Butterfly” to “Before Sunrise” this recipe is a definite “True Romance” (♥)

Oh, and if you are about to enjoy golubtsy,  I encourage you to check out this post from my fellow blogger Breakfast In Moscow… you know, just to add a pinch of Russian soul to your dish…

If you liked this recipe, you may enjoy:


  1. tinykitchenstories says:

    My mother used to make “halupki”, which must be the Polish version of this dish, when I was a kid. I hated it. But this one, THIS one, with the walnuts and lentils, sounds delicious! Thank you!

      • Vinny says:

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      • Ali says:

        Another very, very interesting artcile. I think it’s a shame how African American artists have been overlooked, but this has changed now and I am glad about it. I think there is so much treasure and so much soul in African American art.

  2. ns says:

    Mmm. You remembered my request! Thanks for posting!
    I’ll try it asap and am glad for an alternative to meat.

    • Anastasia says:

      Thanks for stopping by for the recipe! My Russian cookbook used mushrooms for the vegetarian version, but I thought the sprouted beans could be more interesting, and we weren’t disappointed.

    • Tatyana says:

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  3. Mom Photographer (@MomPhotographer) says:

    I just love gołąbki (Polish name for it)!!! My husband hates cabbage, though, and the same as yours he is my biggest critic in case of cooking. since we are married I had stuffed cabbage only twice, only one time bigos (which I miss soooo much). The thing is that he not only doesn’t the taste of cabbage but the smell of it as well… so if I cook it in our kitchen he brags about the smell for the next month.
    Oh.. how I wish I could dig into your plate right now!!! your healthy twist sounds amazing!!!

  4. dianeskitchentable says:

    I wish I could get my husband to try cabbage because I would definitely like to try these. Maybe I could tell him it’s some kind of lettuce? Do you think they would freeze well? Then I could make some up for myself & just freeze them. Shame about Milton. I really was hoping to entice him back East.

    Funny about husbands huh? I think sometimes my husband just says something is good so I’ll keep cooking – anything. But if I’m not sure I’ll ask “would you like it again?” If he says “well maybe not right away”, then I know it’s not his favorite.

    • Anastasia says:

      I’m not sure the cooked ones would be good candidates for freezing. But I see no harm in freezing right after assembling. One of the methods they use in Russia to soften cabbage leaves is by freezing them. So, I’m sure it should not affect the taste – otherwise people won’t be doing it. As far as the stuffing goes – it’s perfect for freezing. We have veggie burger patties made out of this stuff sitting in the freezer. If your husband doesn’t like cabbage, you can try the Greek version – they use grape leaves, which I think have an easier to handle flavor.

    • Alma says:

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  5. Shira says:

    Ooh my favorite! Love stuffed cabbage – and gorgeous sprouts! Green pea sprouts are my favorite and a big hit with the kids!!

  6. An Ng. says:

    I also recently made stuffed cabbage, but took the traditional route and made the filling with pork. This vegetarian version is very intriguing to me, however, so I may make it soon. One quick question, do you sprout the legumes yourself, and if so, how is it done? Thank you!

    • Anastasia says:

      I haven’t sprouted the garbanzo beans, I bought them at the farmers market just to try if we like this recipe. However, I do grow sprouts. It’s really easily done – I bought a sprouter on Amazon (check out the store if you want) – pour water into it twice a day, and in a few days you have fresh sprouts!

  7. Mandiee says:

    Wow, this is wonderful! My family is Polish, but I’ve never had a chance to try their recipe of stuffed cabbage because it always contained meat. It’s so nice to see a vegetarian recipe now, especially one that includes such nourishing, whole foods.

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