Cabbage Parcels with Barley and Mushroom Sauce Recipe

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Wild Honey and Rye Modern Polish RecipesStuffed cabbage parcels or rolls, called goła˛bki, ‘little pigeons’, are very popular in Poland. They can be made with rice and minced meat and served with tomato sauce (see instructions overleaf), or, as in this recipe, with barley and mushroom sauce. They make a lovely main course for vegetarian visitors and you can prepare them in advance. I like to use crushed barley groats (kasza je˛czmienna perłowa), but you could also make these with buckwheat, which would make them gluten free. In Poland, and at my local Polish shop during the spring, you can buy really large white cabbages, but to make 12 parcels you may need the outer leaves of two white cabbages.

  • Yield: 4 Servings


  • 5½ oz ¾ cup (150 g) crushed pearl barley, buckwheat or white rice
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 very large white cabbage, or 2 large white cabbages (around 1 kg/2 lb each)
  • 1 oz (30 g) dried mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 white onion, finely chopped
  • 14 oz (400 g) fresh mixed wild or cultivated mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 tsp dried marjoram
  • 18 fl oz 2 cups (500 ml) vegetable stock
For the Mushroom Sauce
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 9 oz (250 g) white mushrooms, sliced
  • ½ lemon juice
  • 9 fl oz 1 cup (250 ml) vegetable stock
  • 9 fl oz 1 cup (250 ml) single (light) cream
How to Make It
  1. Cook the barley, buckwheat or rice according to the packet instructions but take 4 minutes off the cooking time so that the grains are al dente. Drain and leave to cool completely.
  2. Bring a large pan of water to the boil and then turn the heat down so that the water is just simmering. Add a large pinch of salt. Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage and keep these to one side.
  3. Put the whole cabbage(s) into the pan and simmer for 10 minutes to blanch. This will help the leaves to come away more easily. Carefully remove the cabbage from the boiling water, leave it to cool down a little and then, using a sharp knife, score around the core and pull away the outer leaves, one by one, making sure the leaves stay whole.
  4. When the leaves start to get trickier to remove, put the cabbage back into the hot water for a few minutes, then take it out and repeat the process of scoring the core and gently pulling away the leaves.
  5. Put the dried mushrooms into a cup or small bowl, pour over some boiling water and leave to soak.
  6. Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the onions and cook over a low heat for 10 minutes until soft. Add the fresh mushrooms and cook for a further 5 minutes. Drain the rehydrated mushrooms (reserving the liquid), chop them and add to the pan. Add the marjoram and season well with salt and pepper.
  7. Add the mushroom mixture to the cooked grains, adding 2 tablespoons of the reserved mushroom soaking liquid – this is your filling.
  8. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6. Line a baking tray with the reserved outer leaves of the cabbage.
  9. Taking one blanched cabbage leaf at a time, cut out the thick part of the core. Put a heaped tablespoon of the filling onto the cabbage leaf, fold in the sides and then roll up the cabbage leaf to form a parcel.
  10. Place each cabbage roll, seam-side down, into the baking tray, packing them as tightly as you can. Pour the stock into the tray around the cabbage parcels. Cover the tray with foil and bake for 1 hour.
  11. After an hour, remove the foil and bake uncovered for 10 minutes.
  12. While the cabbage parcels are in the oven, make the mushroom sauce.Heat the butter in a frying pan and fry the onion for 5 minutes, until soft. Add the mushrooms and lemon juice, and cook for a further 5 minutes. Pour in the stock and simmer for 2 minutes. Add the cream and simmer for 5 minutes. Serve the cabbage rolls with the sauce.
  13. Cabbage Parcels with Rice and Meat
  14. Cook 150 g/5½ oz/¾ cup white rice according to the packet instructions but take 4 minutes off the cooking time so that the grains are al dente. Drain and leave to cool completely. Put 400 g/14 oz minced pork, or a mixture of minced pork and veal, into a large bowl. Season very well with salt and pepper. Tip in the rice. Add an egg and mix everything together well; use this as your filling. Follow the process above for removing and filling the cabbage leaves. Although these are traditionally served with a fresh tomato sauce, they go well with the mushroom sauce, too.

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