Friday, 13 January 2012

Posna Sarma (Croatian Rice-filled Cabbage Rolls)

You know how sometimes you just make a dish and think to yourself: "Man, that looks like some delicious ugly". Well this is one of those dishes, there wasn't much I could really do to it to make it photography pretty but you'll just have to take it on taste value rather than looks - and in order to do that you'll have to cook of of course :) This is now recipe number 4 in our delicious exploration of Croatian foods and I have been enjoying myself sooooooo much trying lots of new foods (to check out our other recipes, check the thumbnails at the bottom of the post), I have to say I have never made cabbage rolls before but now I see they are a delicious, low carb and unprocessed option instead of cannelloni. These ones are stuffed with a lovely rice and vegetable mix but you could substitute any kind of cannelloni style filling - this is particularly good for me as I have a severe pasta weakness and am trying to cut myself down to having pasta only twice a week - it's hard.

On the other hand, if you are a bit scared of cabbage due to it's flatulent reputation (not entirely unjustified) - they I suggest you have this with some of our Cabbage-Is-My-Friend Tea which will take care of any worries you have in that area so that you can happily enjoy cabbage as frequently as you like!

3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely diced
1 rib celery, finely diced
1 cup uncooked long grain rice, rinsed
3 tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp dried marjoram
1 tbsp fresh oregano (or substitute 1 tsp dried)
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1 whole cabbage
1 tin sauerkraut
1 can tomato soup (check to make sure it’s vegan)
1 can pureed tomatoes
1 cup water

To Make
1. Preheat the oven to about 180 degrees celcius.
2. Heat oil in a large saucepan or frypan and sauté the onions until translucent. Add the carrot and celery and continue to sauté until the vegies are softened, about 10 mins on a medium-low heat.
3. Add the rice, tomatoes, herbs and seasonings plus 1 cup water to the saucepan and cook, covered, on a low heat for 10-15b minutes. The rice should start to soften but not be completely cooked.  Remove from the heat and stir the chopped garlic through.
4. Meanwhile, pull the tough outer leaves off the cabbage and discard. Wash thoroughly and steam the whole cabbage for 10 minutes or so until the outer leaves are softened and easier to pull away.
5. Remove as many of the outer leaves as you can (until you reach the inner parts which are not as well cooked) and then put the rest of the cabbage back in the steamer for another 5 mins so that you can remove more of the leaves.
6.  Cut the thick stems out of the cabbage leaves and begin rolling. Add about 2 tablespoons of rice mix to the edge of the cabbage leaf and roll over once. Fold in both of the edges and then continue rolling to the end. Put aside. Keep going until you use up the rice filling (or you have to stop because your dish isn’t going to be big enough for all of them.
7. Take some of the leftover centre part of the cabbage and slice it very thinly. Layer this cabbage along the bottom of a big lasagne/casserole dish. Next spread the sauerkraut (drained if necessary) over the top of the cabbage.
8. Place your cabbage rolls over the top of the cabbage and sauerkraut, tucking them in close to each other so that they hold each other together, like this:

9.  Mix the tomato soup, tomato puree and ½ cup water together and pour over the top of the cabbage rolls. Cover with aluminium foil and bake for 30 minutes.
10. After 30 minutes remove the aluminium foil and continue to bake for another 20 minutes (keeping your eye on it to make sure the tops of the cabbage rolls don’t burn.
11. Remove from the oven and let stand for about 10-20 minutes before serving.

I made 12 cabbage rolls, however I had some of the rice mix and some cabbage left over – I was more restricted by the size of my baking dish.  Feeds about 6 on its own or 12 if served as part of a group meal.  Serve with Croatian Blitva.
Prepares well in advance and can be frozen.

Check out our other recipes for Croatia Month:

(Savoury buns filled with creamy potato and pickles!)

(Cracked Pepper Biscuits)

(Poppy Seed Strudel)

Croatian Pizza


  1. Wow, looking delicious, I like the tomato color, guess it tastes good as well :)

  2. I have been looking for a vegan cabbage roll recipe for a few years and none of them appealed to me. Your recipe looks delicious and can't wait to make it. Thanks for all the lovely Croatian recipes.

  3. YUM! I need to get my Sarma fix but I'm trying to avoid meats. This looks perfect.
    Thank you.