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Saturday, 11 February 2017

Making Traditional Cabbage-Wrapped Meatballs

My grandmother used to make us meatballs wrapped in cabbage leaves. I absolutely adored these. After my grandmother passed away, there was no one to make these any more. That was when I decided to step up and do it myself. It doesn't sound great, but wait till you taste these. Even the teenage boys in my life had to concede that it tastes 'brilliant', after initially pulling their noses up at it. Here is to reviving a traditional dish!


I use half of a large cabbage head for roughly 1 kg mincemeat.


Place the cabbage in a large pot with water, add a little salt and cook only a little to make the leaves more pliable. Once the leaves are softened, remove from the heat and allow to cool.


Finely chop 1 onion.


Add the chopped onion and +/- 1 kg mincemeat to a large mixing bowl.


Add seasoning of your choice. I prefer oregano, sweet basil, parsley, coriander, black pepper and salt.


I also love the idea of adding fresh greens from the garden and supplement my fresh herbs with dry ones, only when I use the fresh too quickly for it to grow back. I added some spinach, parsley and celery from the garden. This was finely chopped up.


Cut the crust from three slices of bread. You can use old and stale bread for this with great success.


Soak the bread in a little milk to soften it. Add this to the mixing bowl.


You will also need 2 eggs to bind everything together.


You now have all the ingredients in the bowl.


Mix the ingredients well.


Shape the meatballs into oblong rolls.


Your cauliflower should now be cooling down already.


Heat a little oil in a pan.


Quickly fry the meatballs in the hot oil. Jut 2-3 minutes per side is good enough.


I turned mine over in this photo. We are not cooking the meatballs, but simply adding a little fried flavour to the meat while securing the roll so it is a little more stable to work with.


Put the fried meatballs on a wire rack to cool.


Lay a single cabbage leaf on your prep surface. Cut the hard stalk away. Lay a meatball on the spot where you cut away the hard stalk.


Fold one side of the leaf over.


Fold the other side of the leaf over, tucking the meatball in.


Roll the meatball up in the leaf.


Place the leaf-covered meatballs, side by side in an oven dish.


If you run out of leaves, the way I did, overlap the tiny leaves and cover the remainder of your meatballs in this way. You will see my untidier meatballs in the bottom right corner of the dish.


I prefer making my own tomato and onion relish, but tomatoes were too expensive when I went to the shops and it was cheaper to buy tins. You choose what will work best for you.


Cover the meatballs with the tomato and onion relish. I then added about half a tin of water to keep the meat from drying out in the oven.


This dish is ready to go into the oven.


Cover the dish with a lid (or foil).


Bake for roughly 1 1/2 hours in a preheated oven at 180 °C. Open the dish and grill for a few minutes to brown.


Serve these hot from the oven. I served these meatballs with spaghetti and chakalaka and it was a great hit. Salads will go just as well with these.


Marietjie Uys (Miekie) is a published author. You can buy the books here:
You can purchase Designs By Miekie 1 here.
Jy kan Kom Ons Teken en Verf Tuinstories hier koop.
Jy kan Kom Ons Kleur Tuinstories In hier koop.
Jy kan Tuinstories hier koop.
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