Italians can be Ukrainian for a day // Cooking

This past Monday was Thanksgiving, so in Canada we had the day off from work, and/or school. What do Canadian-Italians do on their day off?


On the menu was something special. Something that my Nonna and mom haven’t made in a long time…CABBAGE ROLLS. It took one day of preparation – of course my Nonna did this solo and wouldn’t let us help – and a second day when three generations (Nonna, Mom, and myself) got together to cook, roll, toothpick together, and bake this ukrainian dish.

My Nonna is directly from Italy. A small town called St. Clemente outside of the city Caserta. She’s made Cabbage rolls before, but it’s my deceased Grandma (my dad’s mom) who was actually Ukrainian. Either way, my family loves the taste of Cabbage, and this is our recipe.

The Ingredients, Recipe and Instructions

Ingredients: 1 White onion, Bacon, Ground Beef, Ground Pork, Tomato Sauce, Cabbage, and toothpicks.

1. NOTE: The day before you make the cabbage rolls, boil the cabbage, separate each leaf, and let the cabbage leaves dry – in a bowl – overnight. 

2. Put olive oil in a pot, and add diced white onion (about 1/2 a large onion). Saute the onion, so cook them until they are translucent.

3. Dice a few (3-5) strips of bacon and add them to the onions for flavour.

3. Add lean ground beef and ground pork to your onions. Be sure to break up the pork and beef into tiny pieces while they cook.

4. Add (previously cooked) white rice to your sautéed onions, and pork/beef. Mix all the ingredients together.
NOTE: The rice was boiled the day before, and left over night to cool.

5. In a separate sauce pan cook your
tomato sauce.
NOTE: Italians – like us – traditionally  make homemade tomato sauce every year at the end of August, so for us we just put olive oil and onions in a pan. Wait until they are sautéed, and add a jar of our tomato sauce.
If your family is not Italian, or does not make sauce, you can dice fresh tomatoes and mix them in with the onions. Be sure to crush the tomatoes once they are softened.

For a glance at, or to learn how to make homemade tomato sauce the traditional Italian way, click on: Tomato.

6. Add (a few large spoon full’s) of sauce to your mixture of onions, bacon, ground beef, ground pork, and rice. Mix well and set aside.

7. Next is the Cabbage. Take the leaves of your previously boiled cabbage and lightly slice down the middle of the leaf to cut off the hard exterior. This will allow you to roll the cabbage leaf easier without rips or tears. 

8. Take each leaf and lay it flat on a board. Take a spoon full – or two – of the mixture (bacon, beef, pork, and rice) and place it in the centre of the leaf. Now, you fold the leaf up and over the mixture. Fold both sides (left and right) inward. Then you roll the entire thing forward like you would a sandwich wrap.

9. Carefully use a toothpick in the centre where the fold meets the rest of the cabbage roll. This is to secure it closed, and will stop the cabbage roll from opening when baking. 

10. In a large, glass baking pan, add a layer of tomato sauce at the bottom. Then place the cabbage rolls you made in step 9 on top of the sauce.

11. Once the pan is full cover the top of the cabbage rolls with a light coating of tomato sauce. Cover your glass, baking pan with tin foil.

12. FINALLY. Place your glass, baking pan into a 350 degree oven. Leave covered for about an hour, or until the tomato sauce is boiling consistently and the cabbage is soft.

We made two glass, baking pan’s full of cabbage rolls! Believe me, we got our fix, so much so that we decided to freeze some of them.

I know this recipe isn’t the most accurate in relation to the amount of ground beef, ground pork, or rice that we used, but we estimated it. Plus it depends on how many cabbage rolls you’re planning to make. We decided to just make as many as possible.

Hope you enjoyed learning how Italians can be Ukrainian for a day. What an experience.


About Dee

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This entry was posted in Culture, Family, Food, Toronto and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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