Meat-Stuffed Cabbage Leaves with Fruit


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Sephardic Flavors: Jewish Cooking of the Mediterranean

Sephardic Flavors

By Joyce Goldstein

Published 2000

  • About

These cabbage rolls from Sefarad Yemekleri are part of a large repertoire of Sephardic dolmas. A delicious sweet-and-sour sauce forms during the cooking of the cabbage packets with seasonal fruit, quinces in fall or winter, and Plums in summer.


  • 1 large head cabbage
  • 1 pound ground beef or lamb
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • ¼ to ½ cup long-grain white rice, soaked in water for 30 minutes and drained
  • 2 onions, grated
  • teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 or 3 quinces, or ½ pound plums (6 to 8 small)
  • juice of 4 lemons (about 1 cup)
  • 1 cup tomato juice


Bring a large pot two-thirds full of salted water to a boil. Cut out the core of the cabbage with a sharp knife. Slip the cabbage into the water, reduce the heat so the water simmers, and cook until the cabbage leaves soften, about 10 minutes. Drain carefully and remove the outer large leaves. You should have 12 to 16 leaves. Reserve the remaining cabbage for another use.

In a bowl, combine the meat, parsley, dill, rice, onions, salt, and pepper. Knead the meat with your hands until the mixture holds together well.

Spread the cabbage leaves out on a work surface. Place a few tablespoons of meat on the center of a leaf. Fold over the top, fold in the sides, and then fold over the bottom part of the leaf, making a dolmalike package. Skewer closed with toothpicks. Repeat until all filling is used. Place the packages, seam side down, in a single layer in a large, wide pot or saucepan.

If using quince, peel and core them and cut into large dice or ½ -inch-thick slices. If using plums, cut in half, remove the pits, and then cut into quarters if large. Top the cabbage packets with the sliced fruit. (If all the packets will not fit in a single layer, you can layer them with the fruit.) Add the lemon juice and tomato juice and bring to a simmer over low heat. Cover and simmer until tender, 1 to ½ hours. (Alternatively, place the covered pot in an oven preheated to 300 degrees F for 1 to ½ hours.) Taste and adjust the seasonings in the pan juices. Serve hot.