Pork and Thyme Stuffed Cabbage Leaves with a Smooth Tomato Sauce

A simple but effective crowd pleaser.

Pork stuffed cabbage leaves on tomato sauce wish to dish recipe

So today’s recipe is British interpretation of The Mediterranean’s dolma – stuffed vine leaves. As I do not have vine leaves to hand I have settled for stuffed cabbage leaves which, though they may sound less glamorous, are equally delicious. I promise! This is a wonderful meal to serve at a special occasion as it looks impressive and the recipe can be adjusted to feed as many as you want. It isn’t a quick meal (definitely a weekend job) but it is relatively easy to prepare if you have a willing sous chef on hand, they can prepare the sauce whilst you stuff the cabbage.

Serve with a dollop of natural yogurt and a dish of buttered new potatoes or wild rice and dinner is on the table.

A quick note on the recipe. Bouquet garni is simply a bundle of herbs – you can buy packets of it from most supermarkets of just make one yourself by tying together one sprigs of thyme, three stalks of parsley and a bay leaf.

Pork stuffed cabbage leaves on tomato sauce wish to dish recipe (6)

Pork stuffed cabbage leaves on tomato sauce wish to dish recipe (8)

Pork stuffed cabbage leaves on tomato sauce wish to dish recipe (10)


Serves 4 

Prep time: 1 hour 

Cooking time: 15 minutes 


For the cabbage

  • 1 head of savoy cabbage
  • 400 g pork mince
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp soft brown sugar
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 4 sprigs thyme, leaves removed
  • 25 g flat leaves parsley, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 tbsp cold water

For the sauce

  • 1 can plum tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Bouquet garni
  • salt and pepper


For the Sauce

  1. Place all of the tomato ingredients into a saucepan and season with salt and pepper. Fill the empty tomato can with water and add that to the pan as well. Use a wooden spoon to break down the plum tomatoes slightly and bring to the boil. Cover with a lid and simmer for 30 minutes.
  2. Remove the bouquet garni and place the mixture into a food processor or blender. Blitz for 20 – 30 seconds; it should be blended but not silky smooth – you want to retain some texture to the sauce.

For the cabbage

  1. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil on a medium high heat in a large frying pan. Add the onion, celery and garlic to the pan and fry for 8 – 10 minutes until golden brown and softened. Remove the vegetables from the pan and replace it with 1 tbsp olive oil and the mince meat. Season the meat generously with salt and pepper and cook for 10 minutes until the pork is cooked through.
  2. Meanwhile bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Rinse the cabbage to wash away any grit and then remove all of the leaves from the cabbage. Blanch the cabbage leaves in the water for 30 seconds just to soften them slightly and then lay them on kitchen towel to remove excess moisture.
  3. Return the onion mixture to the pan with the pork. Add the tomato paste, sugar, water, thyme and oregano and cook for a few minutes on a low heat.
  4. Stir the parsley through the pork mixture and set to one side.

Assembling the dish

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C (fan oven).
  2. In a large oven proof dish pour in all of the tomato sauce in an even layer. If you have made the sauce ahead of time heat it up gently in a saucepan first. 
  3. Lay the cabbage leaves out on a flat surface, one at a time, and place a tablespoon of the pork mixture into the center of each one. Fold all of the sides over, like you are wrapping a present, and place the parcel, seam side down, onto the tomato sauce. Do this until all of pork is used up. Drizzle over the remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil and a light sprinkling of salt. Place in the oven to cook for 20 minutes or until the tops of the cabbage parcels are golden.

Thank you so much for reading this post, I hope that you enjoyed it! Please let me know what you think in the comments as I love hearing from you and do not forget to follow me on Instagram, Facebook and and Pinterest (my username is wishtodish) plus subscribe on here to see more recipes and foodie musings from me.

12 thoughts on “Pork and Thyme Stuffed Cabbage Leaves with a Smooth Tomato Sauce

  1. Mindy says:

    This looks great and is very reminiscent of holishkes (Jewish cabbage rolls), which I only eat occasionally because they are deceptively rich! I love your version and can’t wait to try it!


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