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Italian-Style Cabbage Rolls (Pigs in the Blanket)

November 20, 2014 (Last Updated: April 10, 2018)

Italian-Style Cabbage Rolls are a delicious take on an Old Comfort Food that contains a well-seasoned ground meat, rice, onions with Italian herbs all bundled in a perfectly cooked cabbage leaf and buried in a rich tomato-wine herb sauce with extra cabbage.

The cabbage roll has sometimes been fondly nicknamed “Pigs in the Blanket” an old comfort food casserole consisting of cooked cabbage leaves wrapped around a variety of fillings. It is common to the ethnic cuisines of the Eastern, Central, Northern Europe, The Balkans, Greece, as well as parts the Middle East.

In Europe, the filling traditionally includes meat, often beef, lamb, or pork and is seasoned with garlic, onion, and spices. Grains may also be included such as rice and barley, eggs, specialty mushrooms, and some vegetables. baked, simmered, or done on the stovetop in a covered pot covered with a sauce. The sauce varies widely by ethnic culture and local ingredients in the area.

#Italian #PigsintheBlanket #CabbageRolls Our family has our version “The Josie and Millie version” of course,  I have, to be honest, those two Italian ladies have ruled the Kitchen and Recipe world since young girls… Below you will find my version of Italian-Style Cabbage Rolls taken from the kitchen of my Grandmother and her sister Millie with fairly simple instructions to make your own.

Italian-Style Cabbage Rolls


  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 and 1/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 cup rice
  • Dash of Kosher salt


  • 1-2 heads of cabbages, cored
  • salted water


  • 1- 28-ounce can of organic San Marzano Tomato crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 of a cup red wine
  • 1/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon of finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • pinch of kosher salt

Meat filling

  • 1/2 pound of ground beef
  • 1/2 of a pound Italian sausage
  • 2 ounces of Romano cheese
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 whole cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of finely chopped rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon of finely chopped fresh oregano
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Optional ingredient 

  • shredded mozzarella cheese, optional topping

Directions for Cabbage Rolls
In a medium saucepan add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 and 1/4 cups of vegetable broth, bring to a boil, then add 1 cup of rice and a dash of kosher salt. Stir rice well, let boil 5 minutes uncovered. Place the tight-fitting lid on rice and turn the burner to lowest setting, till water is absorbed about 10-12 minutes. Turn off heat, remove from heat and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, in a large stockpot filled with boiling salted water, (the stockpot should contain enough water to completely cover the head of cabbage. Do not overfill the pot) place cored cabbage, as the outer leaves cook, remove larger leaves one at a time with long metal tongs, place on plate till ready to use. (Coarsely chop the center cabbage and reserve for later)

In a large saucepan combine 1 large can or 28 ounces of San Marzano crushed tomatoes, 1/4 cup red wine, 1/4 cup of vegetable stock, minced garlic, dried basil, finely chopped rosemary, dried oregano, sugar, and kosher salt. Cook on low heat for about 30 minutes before adding reserved chopped cabbage, stir and remove from heat.

Once the rice has completely cooled mix the cooked rice, ground beef, ground sausage, Romano cheese, finely chopped onions, minced garlic, 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, fresh basil, finely chopped rosemary, finely chopped fresh oregano, kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.  Mix ingredients thoroughly.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Cut away a portion of the center vein of cabbage, place even amounts of filling (about 3 tablespoons) on each cabbage leaf toward the center bottom, (just above the removed portion)

Roll the leaf around the filling, by beginning from the cut end of the leaf, roll each leaf up and over the filling, tucking the leaf underneath itself tightly. Tuck the ends underneath and fold the open ends of each leaf underneath them to prevent the roll from unraveling. Place in oven safe glass casserole dish or Dutch oven seam side down. Place a fair amount of tomato sauce over, optional mozzarella cheese, and cover tightly.

Bake tightly covered Cabbage Rolls in 350-degree oven 40-45 minutes.




© Heidy L. McCallum and The McCallum’s Shamrock Patch, 2018- 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material or photos without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner are strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Heidy L. McCallum and The McCallum’s Shamrock Patch with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. You may not copy and paste recipes to share on Social Platforms.

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  • Reply
    November 22, 2014 at 7:26 pm

    My daughter loves stuffed cabbage. I would love to try your Italian style cabbage rolls I’m sure she will love them.

    • Reply
      Heidy L. McCallum
      December 1, 2014 at 11:30 pm

      Thank you JOanne for dropping by and the sweet compliments on Italian Style Cabbage Rolls (Pigs in the Blanket)…let me know if you get a chance to make them!

  • Reply
    November 22, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    This is something I grew up with. My Mom used to make it a lot, but with a little different sauce.
    We all looooooooove it here 🙂

    • Reply
      Heidy L. McCallum
      December 1, 2014 at 11:31 pm

      WInnie thank you for checking out Italian Style Cabbage Rolls (Pigs in the Blanket)—I would love to also hear more about your cabbage rolls as well!!

  • Reply
    Culinary Flavors
    November 22, 2014 at 12:47 am

    We make almost the same rolls in Greece called Lachanodolmades! It is one of my most favorite meals! Your rolls look absolutely mouthwatering!

    • Reply
      Heidy L. McCallum
      December 1, 2014 at 11:32 pm

      Italian Style Cabbage Rolls (Pigs in the Blanket) are slightly different but yes the same idea! I would love to hear about your recipe for Lachanodolmades!

  • Reply
    The Foodie Affair
    November 21, 2014 at 12:10 am

    I’ve never made cabbage rolls as crazy as that sounds! Your recipe had me drooling when I saw it on FB and inspiring me to give this a try!

    • Reply
      Heidy L. McCallum
      December 1, 2014 at 11:33 pm

      Ha Ha!!! Thank you Sandra, so thrilled you dropped by to check out the recipe ! Let me know if you make the Italian Cabbage Rolls!

  • Reply
    November 20, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    This recipe looks and sounds wonderful. I love the full flavour of the sauce and the flavorings in the meat. I’m looking forward to trying this very soon. Thank you!

    • Reply
      Heidy L. McCallum
      November 20, 2014 at 11:05 pm

      Thanks glad you enjoyed our recipe for “Pigs in the Blanket” thanks for having me at your wonderful party!

  • Reply
    November 20, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    Not only is this the ideal comfort food dish, but it would make a lovely holiday entree as well!

    • Reply
      Heidy L. McCallum
      November 20, 2014 at 1:25 pm

      Thank you so much Linda, they are definity an old favorite.

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