Saturday, January 27, 2018


When a cold wind whips through the olive trees, I start to think of cabbage. Cabbage seems an antidote to chill. Heart-warming, stick-to-the-ribs. I pulled up a recipe for cabbage rolls, Sevilla style, that I hadn’t made for years. The moment had arrived. 

These cabbage rolls with a meat and olive stuffing are breaded and fried.

Cabbage leaves are rolled around a meat stuffing. Olives in the stuffing. “Seville” olives—green manzanillas, black ones or stuffed with red pimiento—make this dish sevillano style. 

The rolled packets are first breaded and fried. They can be served just like that, crisp and golden, with an accompanying sauce, or added to a tomato sauce to cook until very tender. I enjoyed them both ways. I served a few hot out of the frying oil with a spicy brava sauce for dipping. Then I simmered the rest of the rolls in tomato sauce for another meal.

Serve the fried rolls hot with a spicy sauce for dipping.

Or, simmer the cabbage rolls in tomato sauce.

Cabbage Roll-Ups, Sevilla Style
Liadillos Sevillanos

Dipping the head of cabbage in boiling water loosens the leaves making it easy to remove them. Ground beef or chicken can replace the ground pork in the stuffing for the rolls.

Serves 4.
Grated nutmeg in the stuffing.

1 medium cabbage (2 ½ -3 pounds)
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves chopped garlic
12 ounces ground pork
2 ounces chopped bacon and/or serrano ham
1/8 teaspoon cumin seed
Grated fresh nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
½ cup pitted olives, halved
1 large egg, beaten
¾ cup fine dry bread crumbs
Olive oil for frying
For tomato sauce:
1 (14-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
½ cup water
1 teaspoon pimentón (paprika)
2 cloves garlic
Parsley and olives to garnish

Brava sauce to serve (optional), recipe below

Cut around core, then boil to loosen leaves.

Bring salted water to a boil in a deep pot. Discard any damaged exterior leaves from the head of cabbage. Cut deeply all around the core. Submerge the whole cabbage in the boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes. Turn it over and boil another 1 minute. Very carefully remove the cabbage and let it drain until cool enough to handle. Reserve the pot of water.

Remove 12 to 14 leaves from the cabbage. (Reserve inner part of cabbage for another use.) Return them to the boiling water and cook just until the leaves are limp, about 3 minutes. Do not overcook, or the leaves will tear. Drain well and refresh the leaves in cold water. Drain again.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet and sauté the onion and garlic until softened, 2 minutes. On medium-high heat, add the ground pork. Fry without stirring until it begins to brown. Break up the meat and turn it, cooking until it loses pink color, about 5 minutes. Add the bacon and/or ham and cook 2 minutes more. Season with cumin, nutmeg, ½ teaspoon salt, pepper and parsley. Stir in the olives.

Place spoonful of meat stuffing mixture in center of leaf.

Fold sides over the filling, then roll up from the stem end.

Place a kitchen towel on a work surface. Spread open a cabbage leaf. Cut out the thick end of the stem. Place a heaping spoonful of the meat mixture in the center. Fold the sides of the leaf over it. Starting from the stem end, roll the leaf up. Secure it with a toothpick or kitchen twine. (Leave a tail on the twine to make it easier to find and remove it after frying.) Use the meat filling to roll 12 leaves. Use the extra leaves to patch any leaves that tear by overlapping pieces with the leaf. 

It's a wrap. Cabbage leaves are rolled and tied, ready to be breaded and fried.

When all of the leaves have been filled and rolled, place the flour in a shallow bowl, beaten egg in another shallow bowl. Place half of the bread crumbs in a shallow pan. Roll the cabbage rolls first in flour, patting off excess. Dip them into beaten egg then roll them in the crumbs. Add more crumbs as needed. Place on a baking sheet as they are breaded. (They can be allowed to dry at room temperature for up to 1 hour.)

In a deep frying pan place oil to a depth of 1 inch. Heat until it is shimmering, but not smoking. Fry the cabbage rolls, a few at a time, turning them to brown all sides. Remove when they are golden and drain on paper towels.

Serve the cabbage rolls immediately accompanied by the sauce, if desired.

If preferred, cook them further in tomato sauce.

Place canned tomatoes, water, pimentón, whole crushed garlics and a sprig of oregano in a saucepan large enough to hold the cabbage rolls in one layer. Season with salt and pepper. Bring the tomatoes to a boil, then lower heat and cook 3 minutes.

Place the cabbage rolls in the tomato sauce. Cover and cook gently 20 minutes. Turn the rolls and cook 20 minutes more.

Serve the cabbage rolls and tomato sauce hot, garnished with chopped parsley and a few sliced olives.

Cabbage rolls cook very tender in tomato sauce.

Spicy “Brava” Sauce
Salsa Brava

Hot and sweet pimentón add spice to this sauce.

This version of the famous tapa sauce, typically served with cubes of fried potatoes, doesn’t start with tomato sauce. Sweet and hot pimentón (paprika) give it color. Use some smoked pimentón if you like the flavor. If hot pimentón is not available, use cayenne, but decrease the quantity.

¼ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, peeled
¼ cup flour
2 teaspoons sweet pimentón (paprika), smoked or unsmoked
2 teaspoons hot pimentón, smoked or unsmoked
½ teaspoon cumin
1 ¼ cups + water
1 tablespoon Sherry vinegar

Heat the oil in a saucepan. Sauté the onion and garlic 2 minutes. Stir in the flour. Cook the flour, stirring, for 2 minutes. Stir in the two kinds of pimentón and cumin. Add the water and vinegar. Add ½ teaspoon salt.

Cook the sauce, stirring constantly, until it is thickened. Cook 4 minutes.

Puree the sauce with an immersion blender, adding enough additional water (about 2 tablespoons) so that the sauce is the consistency of thick cream as it cools to room temperature.

More recipes with cabbage:

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