The most important part of a meal of cabbage rolls is the cabbage rolls themselves. But, as every good home cook knows, the rest of what you serve alongside your main dish is just as delicious and it can make for a balanced and satisfying meal. Here are just some of the great options out there for sides to accompany your cabbage rolls.
What Are Cabbage Rolls?
Cabbage rolls look like a big enchilada, but they are slightly different. Cabbage has been cooked and softened, then stuffed with a meat filling that is rolled up and baked. The cabbage rolls are then topped with a sauce and served alongside rice or noodles.
You can find cabbage rolls in many Central European countries, as well as in Russia and the Middle East. They are very popular in Poland, where they are called gołąbki (spelled golumpki on some menus). Gołąbki means “little pigeons,” which is an apt description for these small bundles of comfort food.
There are many variations on the basic recipe for cabbage rolls. Not only do countries have their own versions but so do individual families. Some recipes call for rice to be mixed with the ground meat filling; others use mashed potatoes or barley instead of rice. Some cooks add sauerkraut to the filling mixture, while others use chopped mushrooms or breadcrumbs to stretch the meat a bit further.
Why Consider Serving Side Dishes for Cabbage Rolls?
Cabbage rolls are a delicious main dish that goes well with a variety of side dishes. You should include at least one of these sides when you serve cabbage rolls, because they enhance the flavor of the dish and extend its appeal to those who may not enjoy the cabbage rolls as much. In this article, we will discuss some of the most popular sides that complement the taste of cabbage rolls.
The first side dish that you should consider serving with cabbage rolls is mashed potatoes, which is a great choice if you have children or family members who do not like cabbage rolls. Since mashed potatoes are so versatile, they can be easily combined with other foods. For example, if you want to make your cabbage rolls more appealing to younger children, you can add mashed potatoes on top of them for an easy meal that is still nutritious and tasty.
Another option for serving side dishes for cabbage rolls is corn on the cob. Corn on the cob is one vegetable that is often overlooked in many dishes. However, it has been proven to be very nutritious and delicious when cooked properly. Corn on the cob also makes a great side dish for any type of food because it goes well with almost anything. Therefore, it would be a good idea to include corn on the cob as a side dish for your cabbage rolls.
What to Serve with Cabbage Rolls? 15 BEST Side Dishes
1. Mashed Potatoes
The cabbage rolls are filled with ground beef, onion, and rice, so this is a very hearty dish. Mashed potatoes are an excellent option for a side dish because they absorb the flavors of the gravy that you serve with the cabbage rolls. Serve the mashed potatoes alongside sliced French bread or warm crusty rolls to complete the meal.
2. Rice Pilaf
Rice pilaf is another delicious option for serving with stuffed cabbage. Rice pilaf is made from rice, onions, and seasonings. It also makes a great complement to the cabbage rolls because it absorbs the meaty flavor of the gravy that you serve over the cabbage rolls. The rice pilaf can be served in addition to mashed potatoes if you want a more filling meal.
3. Potatoes au Gratin
The potatoes au gratin dish is an excellent side for cabbage rolls as it is a creamy and cheesy dish with a crunchy outer layer. It can be prepared by slicing the potatoes thinly and layering them in a casserole dish. Then, sauce is poured on top of the potatoes, and the dish is baked until it turns golden brown.
4. Buttered Egg Noodles
A simple side that goes well with cabbage rolls is buttered egg noodles. To make this side dish, butter or olive oil is added to cooked egg noodles and stirred until they are evenly coated. Then, salt and pepper are added to taste.
5. Mashed Cauliflower
This lightened-up version of mashed potatoes is made by cooking cauliflower florets in your slow cooker all day long until they’re incredibly soft, then pureeing them with butter, garlic powder, and Parmesan. The result is more than a little reminiscent of mashed potatoes. It even has that same fluffy texture, but it’s much lighter than its starchy cousin. You can serve mashed cauliflower with just about anything, but it’s especially good with something like this cabbage rolls that has a rich sauce.
6. Green Beans Amandine
A simple green bean recipe like Green Beans Amandine from Simply Recipes takes this vegetable to an entirely new level. The combination of sautéed green beans, sliced almonds, and lemon juice provides a refreshing contrast to the richness of the cabbage rolls’ meat mixture.
7. Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage
Red cabbage is an excellent choice for pairing with cabbage rolls because it’s similar to green cabbage in texture but has a sweeter taste. To make sweet-and-sour red cabbage, simply add red wine vinegar, sugar and salt to your favorite red cabbage recipe. Add some sliced apples or tart cranberries to the mix if you want to increase the sweetness.
8. Roasted Brussels Sprouts
When cooked properly, brussels sprouts are tender inside with crispy edges; their natural sweetness pairs nicely with the savory flavor of cabbage rolls. In addition, including this vegetable in your meal will provide your guests with extra nutrients such as Vitamin A, Vitamin C and calcium.
9. Slow-roasted tomatoes
The roasted tomatoes are slow-cooked at a low temperature, which allows them to caramelize and become extra sweet. This adds another layer of mouthwatering goodness to your cabbage roll meal. To make the roasted tomatoes, simply toss whole tomatoes in a mixture of extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Place them on a baking sheet and into the oven at 300°F for 1 hour until they are wrinkled and slightly browned.
10. Roasted Carrots with Brown Sugar and Bacon
Potatoes are always a good choice as a side for any meat dish, and this recipe for roasted baby potatoes adds bacon and brown sugar to create a sweet-and-salty combination that complements the meatiness of your cabbage rolls. The recipe is easy enough that you could even whip it up while your cabbage rolls are baking in the oven (just be sure to keep an eye on them). If you prefer bigger chunks of carrot instead of baby potatoes, try this recipe for roasted carrots glazed with brown sugar, butter and orange juice, it’s just as simple as the recipes above and should be done in about half an hour.
11. Baked apple rings
Baked apple rings are a healthier side dish that work well with cabbage rolls because they’re also cooked in tomato sauce. The cinnamon in this recipe complements the flavors of the tomato sauce used in the cabbage roll recipe perfectly.
12. Roasted winter vegetables
Sometimes you have to go with the classics! Roasted winter vegetables like beets, potatoes and carrots are a staple in many European countries. You can get these at your local market or grow them yourself. They’re easy to make: just wash, peel and chop into large chunks before roasting on a cookie sheet in the oven. Drizzle some olive oil over them and add salt and pepper to taste. Roast until fork-tender, then serve alongside your cabbage rolls.
13. Bread with butter and sour cream
A loaf of crusty bread is a great way to round out any meal, but it’s also an ideal complement to the rich flavors in cabbage rolls. Slather on some butter and sour cream for added richness, or simply drizzle on a little bit of olive oil if you’re looking for something a little lighter. You can even try dipping your bread in the sauce that the cabbage rolls are cooked in to really capture all those deep flavors.
14. Sautéed Zucchini with Fresh Dill
The fresh, earthy taste of dill not only pairs well with the slightly sweet flavor of zucchini; it also complements the sour cream and tomato-based sauce that many cabbage roll recipes call for. Add a dash of salt and pepper as needed, then use whatever leftovers you have in scrambled eggs or toss them into a salad.
Beer is a natural pairing with cabbage rolls, especially if they are served with tomato sauce. The carbonation in beer helps cut through the fatty richness of cabbage rolls. An amber ale or lager brings out the warm flavors in cabbage rolls, but feel free to experiment with different styles to see what you like best!
In the end, cabbage rolls are a delicious and filling dish that can satisfy even the pickiest of eaters. And while they may be a little time-consuming to make, they’re totally worth it! Hopefully this article has helped you realize how many other great options you have for your cabbage rolls. From salads to breads to desserts, there’s a cabbage roll side dish for everyone!