Joan Nathan's Ultimate Stuffed Cabbage

September 18, 2013

Stuffed Cabbage on Food52

With fall comes a jam-packed schedule of Jewish holidays. Immediately following the somber Yom Kippur, Sukkot is a weeklong celebration of fall’s harvest. Stuffed vegetables are a common and symbolic Sukkot dish, just like Thanksgiving's traditional cornucopia. Whether or not you'll be celebrating the Jewish holiday of Sukkot next week, you should make Joan Nathan's stuffed cabbage.

Another stuffed dish from Joan: Cheese Blintzes.

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In her latest video for Tablet Magazine, Joan brings us her ultimate stuffed cabbage recipe. Jews all around the world have their own versions, and Joan has added a distinctly American twist: ketchup. Her secret to stuffing the leaves? Just roll them up "like a big cigar!” If you have access to a sukkah, you should probably eat it in there.

Joan Nathan's Ultimate Stuffed Cabbage

Makes 24 rolls

For the cabbage:

1 head of fresh cabbage, frozen a day ahead, about 2 pounds (or 2 pounds Swiss Chard unfrozen)
2 pounds ground beef
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/3 cup ketchup 
1/2 cup uncooked rice
1 small onion, finely chopped

For the sauce:

1 tablespoon oil
One 35-ounce can chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 large onions, sliced
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup ketchup
2 lemons, juiced
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup raisins

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by James Ransom. Video by Tablet Magazine.

More vegetable recipes to make for Sukkot:
Stuffed Vegetables with Beans and Barley
Couscous with Roasted Fennel and Toasted Almonds
Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • drbabs
  • Droplet
  • amysarah
  • Elana Carlson
    Elana Carlson
  • Genius Recipes
    Genius Recipes
Lactose intolerant cheese lover, who will walk blocks for a good cup of coffee. Recently escaped the corporate world, after discovering her favorite part of the job was ordering catering.


drbabs September 18, 2013
This is very similar to an old Polish recipe that I got a million years ago from a friend's mother. She uses sauerkraut in the sauce instead of lemon, and crumbles ginger snaps on the top.
amysarah September 18, 2013
My mother also used ginger snaps in her 'sauerbraten' - crumbled and cooked down in the sauce for flavor and body. She's Hungarian/Russian, but grew up in the Yorkville area of NYC, which also had a big German and Czech population, so there was some cooking cross-pollination there. I'm curious about the ginger snaps - whether they were an American adaptation, or actually used in the original recipes.
Droplet September 18, 2013
I have seen the gingersnaps in some very old German recipes (in German)for Sauerbraten, so I think it originated there.
Elana C. September 18, 2013
Gingersnaps?! Can't wait to try that.
Droplet September 18, 2013
I am curious about the sweet-and-sour element that she mentions a few times. What is the significance of it?
amysarah September 18, 2013
Sweet and sour is a very popular flavor in traditional Ashkenazi Jewish cooking (Eastern European origin) - which is the heritage of the majority of American Jews. For instance in stuffed cabbage, cabbage soup, borscht, sweet and sour meatballs, etc.
Genius R. September 18, 2013
Thanks for the info amysarah!