Sarmale is a quintessential Romanian food, made of a mixture of sausage, rice, and veggies wrapped in pickled cabbage. I have yet to try “real” traditional sarmale, but I make this casserole version of it almost every week.
On our recent trip home I made my family a somewhat traditional Romanian meal, including two different types of this sarmale casserole. I was asked for this recipe by a few people, so I decided to post it on here in case others are interested in trying it as well.
I originally got this recipe from Sam’s Mom, who got it from Allrecipes, but we have both improvised it quite a bit from the original recipe. I have gotten to where I make it a little differently every time based on what I have around, but I keep the base the same.
1 small-medium head of cabbage, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
2 cups veggie broth
1/2 cup dry brown rice
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper, to tast
1 lb ground beef, cooked and drained
1 small package tofu crumbled
1 small package chopped mushrooms
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
or any combination of the above!
Combine all ingredients in a crockpot and cook on high 4-6 hours, or until the cabbage is soft. Alternately, you could place all the ingredients in a large Dutch oven and bake in the oven or cook on the stovetop.
We like to eat this over mashed potatoes, and for the full Romanian meal for my family I also made mamaliga (a side dish similar to polenta) and salata de varza, which is a cabbage salad with a simple vinegar dressing. Romanians also like to eat this topped with sour cream.
If you try it please let me know how it turns out and what you think! Happy cooking!