Home MealsMain Dish Cabbage Casserole Recipe with Pork Ribs and Tomatoes

Cabbage Casserole Recipe with Pork Ribs and Tomatoes

by Adina 31/10/2018 9 comments

A delicious and comforting cabbage casserole recipe with smoked pork spare ribs and tomatoes, a typical Romanian cabbage recipe.

 

Cabbage is one of my favorite vegetables. I have always loved cabbage, even as a child, one of my favorite meal was a simple stewed cabbage recipe with or without meat in it. The vegetarian version of varza calita was this recipe here, but many times my grandma would make the stewed cabbage with meat, pork actually, little and rather fatty pork pieces.

Gross memory: my grandma, my sister and I eating cabbage stew and placing the fatty parts of the meat on the edge of the plate. My grandpa collecting all the cold fat bits and shoving them into his mouth. I must have been about 5 or 6, it still hunts me…

 

cabbage casserole 9 Cabbage Casserole Recipe with Pork Ribs and Tomatoes

Roasted cabbage casserole with pork

There is nothing gross about this recipe though, in fact, this Romanian cabbage recipe is one of my favorite comfort foods in winter. And it has been so cold during the last few days, it definitely qualifies as winter.

This stewed cabbage recipe is thoroughly delicious. The cabbage is soft and sweet, the tomato sauce fruity and the pork ribs are smoky, hearty and so tender that the meat is actually falling off the bone. An amazing pork ribs and cabbage dish!

Ingredients for the Romanian cabbage recipe

Most of the ingredients needed are common ingredients like white cabbage, onions, red bell pepper, tomato passata and tomatoes.

The only thing that might need a bit of planning ahead are the pork ribs. Regular pork spare ribs or small back ribs are pretty common and just in case you cannot get hold of any smoked ribs, you could use them as well. The stewed cabbage recipe will still be delicious, but it will miss that wonderful smoky flavor.

Here in Germany, I usually have to drive a bit longer to get the smoked ribs in the Russian store or order the smoked ribs at the butcher’s in advance. In this case, they will smoke the ribs extra for me and I definitely have to order that about 4-5 days in advance.

I don’t know how available smoked pork ribs are where you live, but just in case they are not as common as they are in Romania, make a note that you might have to order them in advance.

 

cabbage casserole 1 Cabbage Casserole Recipe with Pork Ribs and Tomatoes

 

I use dried summer savory Spice Islands Summer Savory.7-Ounce (Pack of 3)%name Cabbage Casserole Recipe with Pork Ribs and Tomatoes to make this Romanian cabbage recipe, dried summer savory is THE herb in Romania, the most used herb together with fresh parsley and fresh dill.

Summer savory definitely belongs in any Romanian cabbage dish I can think of, I don’t actually think I have ever had cabbage without summer savory in it. You put in the sarmale – the Romanian cabbage rolls and in any kind of stewed cabbage recipe. It is also important for a genuine flavor when making Romanian meatballs, you can put summer savory in bean stews or bean soups and so on.

I always rub the dried summer savory between my fingers before adding it to a dish, my grandmother once told me this will help the herb release its flavor better.

However, if you don’t have summer savory, dry thyme can be used instead. Again, it will not be very genuine, but still delicious.

I use passata di pomodoro to make the sauce for the pork ribs and cabbage dish. I feel passata comes closest to what my grandmother would have used.

Passata di pomodoro is uncooked and strained tomato puree. A substitute would be plain tomato puree (not the paste) or you can puree the same amount of canned tomatoes.

 

cabbage casserole 7 Cabbage Casserole Recipe with Pork Ribs and Tomatoes

How to make the stewed cabbage in the oven

Typically, this Romanian stewed cabbage is made on the stove or at least that’s the way my grandmother made it most of the times. However, sometimes she would place the half cooked dish in the oven and let it slow cook in there for quite a while.

I make this pork ribs and cabbage recipe pretty much the same way she did.

Step 1: Slice the white cabbage very finely, as finely as you can, you can even use a mandoline if you have one. Mix the cabbage with salt and let it stand for about half and hour, this will help the cabbage get softer.

Step 2: Saute the onion and red bell pepper in a little oil. I say a little, my grandma would have used at least ΒΌ cup, but I think the 2 tablespoons I use are quite fine. Add the cabbage and stew it, stirring often, for 10-15 minutes or until softer. Add some pepper and salt to taste.

Step 3: In the meantime, prepare the pork ribs by cutting them apart in single pieces. To do this you will cut between the bones using a large sharp knife. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius/ 360 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

stewed cabbage Cabbage Casserole Recipe with Pork Ribs and Tomatoes

 

Step 4: Give half of the cabbage to an oven proof dish (preferably a clay pot, but I don’t have one either πŸ™ ). Add the smoked ribs and cover them with the remaining stewed cabbage. Mix the tomato passata, a little hot water, chopped tomatoes, sugar and summer savory.

Step 5: Pour this mixture over the cabbage, move the cabbage a little with the handle of a wooden spoon, making some kind of holes here and there and letting some of the liquid leak through the cabbage.

Step 6: Cover the dish and bake for about 1 Β½ – 2 hours. It depends on how thinly the cabbage was cut, take your time and let the dish in the oven until the cabbage is really nice and soft. Remove the lid during the last 15 minutes or so.

 

stewed cabbage pork ribs Cabbage Casserole Recipe with Pork Ribs and Tomatoes

How to serve the stewed cabbage casserole

You can serve the Romanian cabbage immediately or you can reheat the dish. In order to do that, place it in the hot oven and leave it there until heated through. If you have leftovers, you can also reheat them by giving them to a pot and heating them on the stove. You should add a very small amount of water to keep it from catching at the bottom of the pot and stir often.

Serve the pork ribs and cabbage dish with a dollop of sour cream/smetana/Greek yogurt and white bread. An alternative to white bread would be boiled potatoes, but that would be more like the typical German side dish for stewed cabbage.

It tastes super, but I swear I have never once eaten cabbage with potatoes in Romania, it was an unthinkable combination for us. I was genuinely surprised when I was served cabbage with a side dish of potatoes for the first time in Germany. But it definitely works.

 

cabbage casserole 6 Cabbage Casserole Recipe with Pork Ribs and Tomatoes

 

cabbage casserole 8 150x150 Cabbage Casserole Recipe with Pork Ribs and Tomatoes

Cabbage Casserole Recipe with Pork Ribs and Tomatoes

Share this on WhatsAppA delicious and comforting cabbage casserole recipe with smoked pork spare ribs and tomatoes, a typical Romanian cabbage recipe.   Cabbage is… Main Dish Cabbage Casserole Recipe with Pork Ribs and Tomatoes European Print This
Serves: 4 Prep Time: Cooking Time:
Nutrition facts: 200 calories 20 grams fat
Rating: 4.5/5
( 2 voted )

Ingredients

  • 1 kg/ 2.2 lbs white cabbage
  • Β½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 350 g/ 12.3 oz smoked pork spare ribs or baby back ribs (See note 1)
  • 350 ml/ 11.8 fl.oz/ about 1 Β½ cups passata di pomodoro/ tomato puree/ strained tomatoes (See note 2)
  • 125 ml/ 4.2 fl.oz/ ΒΌ cup hot water
  • 5 medium tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon dried summer savory (See note 3)
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • sour cream/smetana/Greek yogurt, white bread or boiled potatoes to serve

Instructions

Slice the white cabbage very finely, you can use a mandoline if you like. Mix the cabbage very well with the salt and let stand for half an hour.

In the meantime, chop the onion finely and cut the red bell pepper into small thin slices. Prepare the smoked pork ribs by cutting them apart into single pieces, cutting in between the bones with a large sharp knife.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius/ 360 degrees Fahrenheit.

Heat the oil in a wide deeper pan. Saute the onion and the pepper for about 2-3 minutes. Add the cabbage and the bay leaves and saute, stirring often, for 10-15 minutes or until a little softer. Add some salt and pepper to taste.

Give half of the cabbage to an oven proof dish (a pot clay ideally). Arrange the ribs on top and cover them with the remaining cabbage.

Mix together the passata, 125 ml/ ΒΌ cup hot water, finely chopped tomatoes, summer savory and sugar. Pour this mixture over the cabbage, move the cabbage a little with the handle of a wooden spoon, making some kind of holes here and there and letting some of the liquid leak through the cabbage.

Cover the pot and bake the cabbage casserole for 1 Β½ to 2 hours until the cabbage is really soft and the meat of the ribs falls off the bones. Remove the lid during the last 15 minutes or so.

Serve as suggested above, either immediately or reheated, with a dollop of sour cream/smetana/Greek yogurt on top and white bread or boiled potatoes.

Note 1: Smoked pork spare ribs have to be ordered in advance at the butcher's in this area. If that is the case where you live as well, make a note to order them in time. Unsmoked pork ribs can also be used, but the smoky flavor will be missed.

Note 2: Passata di pomodoro is uncooked and strained tomato puree. A substitute would be plain tomato puree (not the paste) or you can puree the same amount of canned tomatoes.

Note 3: Dry thyme can be used instead.

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9 comments

angiesrecipes 31/10/2018 - 15:08

Perfect for rainy windy Fall weather :-))

Reply
Thao @ In Good Flavor 31/10/2018 - 19:56

This dish is total comfort food. I love cooked cabbage, so this is right up my alley! If smoked ribs are not available, I wonder if adding a touch of liquid smoke would work? It wouldn’t be the same, but it would probably be delicious anyway!

Reply
Adina 01/11/2018 - 17:38

Liquid smoke might work, but I have never tried it.

Reply
Marvellina|What To Cook Today 02/11/2018 - 02:56

LOL! What your grandpa did was actually pretty common in Asia ha..ha..! majority of Asians like fatty part of the meat. This cabbage casserole though literally spells comfort for sure!

Reply
Priya @currynation 02/11/2018 - 15:18

Cabbage is my favorite ingredient. We used to make a similar cabbage recipe twice a week. because we are vegetarians we don’t eat meat. rest of the ingredients are pretty same.
How are you btw??

Reply
Karen (Back Road Journal) 05/11/2018 - 16:12

Your dish sounds wonderful and one that I know we would both enjoy. I’ve never seen smoked ribs but I have a friend who has a smoker. Perhaps I can get him to smoke me some and then invite him over for dinner when I make the dish.

Reply
Isadora Guidoni 07/11/2018 - 21:18

Not a huge fan of pork ribs, but this recipe looks perfect. Curious to try it.

Reply
Claudia 04/10/2019 - 20:13

I lived in the US for 15 years now and never knew about the Summer Savory spice. I always just bought dried “cimbru” in Romania and brought it over, o, if I ran out, got the not quite so tasty thyme at the grocery store. Thanks for the tip!!

Reply
Adina 05/10/2019 - 08:47

Hi Claudia. I had the same problem in Germany. Thyme or the German cimbru are great, but not the same as what we know. Savory comes closest, in my opinion.

Reply

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