June 23, 2013

Cabbage Rolls

Being half Polish I grew up with my Babcia’s cabbage rolls and of course they were the best. Seriously, they were. My Granny, her daughter, also made them, but they didn’t come close to my Babcia’s.

When I visited my sister in Mississauga last winter we hit a few of the Polish stores. She wasn’t fond of the one near her work (I also encountered their lack of customer service) and this isn’t the old country. In Mississauga, where 50-60% of the population is Polish, there is a Polish store in almost every strip mall and better options if they are lacking (I was like a kid in a candy store at Starsky; sadly I can’t eat much of it anymore). We left every store with cabbage rolls looking for the best one and surprisingly, we were disappointed each time. They were so bland. My Polish teacher laughed because they aren’t made with spices, but my Babcia’s always were (and so are mine).

Imagine my surprise when I found some fabulous cabbage rolls in my own backyard. Because my neighbourhood has a great variety of stores I don’t venture into The Market that much anymore, but one day I did and popped into the Sausage Kitchen.

I don’t venture there very often these days because the lovely pierniki (gingerbread) and paczki (doughnuts) and perfect pierogi are off limits, the rich chocolate drink has enough caffeine to keep me up all night, and it seemed a bit far to go for condiments. Plus as a vegetarian, I didn’t need to pick up any meat (now as a carnivore I shop in my neighbourhood). Well, they have cabbage rolls and they are the best I’ve ever picked up. They are big, full of flavour, and have the perfect amount of tomato sauce. Of course you can buy them singly, but at 2 for $5 why get just one? Yes, I can make great cabbage rolls myself, but that’s a lot of work for one person (The Honey doesn’t like cabbage so it’s just me). Now I’ve got a place to go for my next cabbage roll craving (they also have quite the selection of sausages and meat that are gluten-free).

If you can’t get to The Market or are vegetarian, your health food store may have products by Antipastos Kitchen. These vegetarian cabbage rolls look delicious and are packed then baked in tomato sauce. 

Now I was a little confused at first because they are labelled gluten-free and in theory, cabbage rolls are gluten-free. My Babcia’s and Granny’s never had gluten, all the ones in Mississauga didn’t have gluten, the Sausage Kitchen’s don’t have gluten, and my Polish teacher says one would never put it in a cabbage roll (so I’m chalking it up to the typical North American craziness of putting stuff where it doesn’t belong). Now, these cabbage rolls were tasty, but I was disappointed. Where were the vegetables? I assumed by the picture that these cabbage rolls would have quite a few vegetables, but they were chopped quite small and I found them to get lost in the rice and sauce.

Antipastos Kitchen packages four cabbage rolls in a container for around $10, depending on the store, so the price isn’t too bad. The instructions are to bake it from frozen, but it takes a long time and seems like a waste to turn on the oven for something so small. So it might be worth a shot to thaw them overnight and adjust the cooking time accordingly. Antipastos Kitchen also makes gluten-free squash ravioli, which were good, but needed more filling in my opinion. In the meantime, I think I’ll stick to the Sausage Kitchen for my cabbage rolls.


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