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Gołąbki {Polish Cabbage Rolls}

It’s Secret Recipe Club time again!  I have to say, this month has been my favorite recipe of all I’ve made with the club so far.  I was assigned to Allie’s Clean Plate Club, and I bookmarked a million recipes before I decided on the Gołąbki (pronounced “go-womb-key”), because it’s something I always wanted to make but never have.  In fact, I’ve never eaten Polish cabbage rolls before!  Up until now, I’ve always had the Middle Eastern Cabbage Rolls, which are similar but don’t have the tomato sauce over the top and don’t necessarily include meat.  I have to say, I really prefer these Polish ones!

One of my ultimate comfort foods is meatloaf with mashed potatoes and gravy.  For some reason, I rarely make or eat it, but it warms my soul when I have a plate of it in front of me.  Well, maybe that’s why I love these cabbage rolls so much.  With the sweet and tangy tomato sauce, they really remind me of little meatloaves!  And I had no idea they would taste anything like meatloaf, but ended up serving them with mashed potatoes on a whim, and I found myself in a state of bliss with my plate of Polish comfort.

Obviously these have a foreign taste to them, not exactly like American meatloaf.  It’s the cinnamon and nutmeg, which isn’t used very often in savory American dishes.  The spices find their way into many foreign ones, however, and the flavor works surprisingly well here in these cabbage rolls.

I know nothing of Polish food except for these rolls, and according to Allie they are very similar to her Polish Grandmother-in-laws authentic gołąbki (although I did change them a bit), but based on them alone I think I like Polish food and am ready to try more!

Gołąbki {Polish Cabbage Rolls}

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1 head of cabbage, cored
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
16 oz. tomato sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 cup cooked rice (I used brown)
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil the entire head of cabbage for 12 to 15 minutes or until tender enough for the leaves to be pulled off and rolled. Drain the cabbage and allow to cool while you prepare the filling and sauce.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook the onions about 5 minutes, or until tender and translucent. Add the garlic, cinnamon and nutmeg and cook for 1 minute more. Remove half of the onion mixture to a large bowl. Stir the tomato sauce, brown sugar and vinegar into the skillet with the remaining onion mixture stir together. Simmer over low heat while you prepare the filling and the rolls, stirring occasionally.

Add the ground beef, rice, egg, salt, and pepper to the onion in the bowl and mix with a fork or your hands. On a cutting board, peel off 12 or more cabbage leaves and cut out the hard stem from each leaf in such a way that you end up with two long leafs for rolling. Place about 2 tablespoons of the beef mixture in the middle of each cabbage leaf half and roll up. As you roll them, place them seam side down in a 9×13 baking dish sprayed with oil. Pour sauce on top, cover with foil, and bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes or until cooked through.

Makes 20 gołąbki.

Per gołąbek (cabbage roll): 100 calories; 6 g fat; 7 g carbohydrates; 1 g fiber; 5 g protein; 3 Points Plus

Recipe source: adapted from Allie’s Clean Plate Club

Be sure to check out the other Secret Recipe Club members in Group C this month (there are so many members, we’re divided into four groups and I’m in Group C) by clicking on Mr. Linky below.  A big thanks to Angie, our fearless leader! :)

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