Holishkes – stuffed cabbage rolls

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Holishkes (a Yiddish word) is a traditional Jewish cabbage roll dish. It is served for Sukkot, the harvest festival in autumn, because when two holishkes are put together side by side, they form the shape of the Torah (two scrolls). And, since Sukkot is followed a week later by Simchas Torah, holishkes are often served then, also. But, in general, they are enjoyed year-round by Jewish communities in Europe, the United States and the Middle East.

Holishkes are made from lightly boiled (“blanched”) cabbage leaves, which are wrapped in a parcel-like manner around minced meat. The resulting dish is bathed in tomato sauce, before being baked.


1 large head cabbage, cored
Kosher salt, to taste
2 tbsp. canola oil
2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced, plus ½ cup finely grated
2 ribs celery, finely chopped
Ground black pepper, to taste
¼ cup tomato paste
⅓ cup raisins
¼ cup honey
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1 32-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes with juice, pureed
1 lb. ground chuck
¼ cup uncooked long-grain white rice, soaked in hot water for 10 minutes, drained
3 tbsp. beef stock
1 tsp. paprika
¼ tsp. cayenne
1 egg, lightly beaten


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat; add cabbage, and cook, pulling off each outer leaf with tongs as it becomes tender, about 2 minutes per leaf. Transfer leaves to a baking sheet and continue until you have 20 leaves.

Heat oil in a 6-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat; add sliced onions and celery, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until lightly caramelized, about 15 minutes. Add tomato paste, and cook, stirring, until lightly caramelized, about 2 minutes. Add raisins, honey, juice, and tomatoes, and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, partially covered, until reduced, about 30 minutes.
Heat oven to 350°C. Combine remaining onion, chuck, rice, stock, paprika, cayenne, egg, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Place 2 tbsp. beef mixture in center of each cabbage leaf, fold sides over filling, and then roll up. Transfer rolls, seam side down, to bottom of a 9″ × 13″ glass baking dish. Pour tomato sauce over rolls; bake until filling is cooked through, about 45 minutes.