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Sarma: Bosnian Stuffed Cabbage Leaves


My beloved Buu and I discussed what to make with the remainder of our ground beef. We'd made delicious burgers with the first half, and could do so again, but I wanted to do something different.
Burgers Cheese Burgers

He thought back to a recipe his parents used to make, called Sarma. We found a few recipes online, but none quite captured the way he remembered it. Luckily there's a deli nearby where his parents shopped for traditional ingredients. We found everything we'd need, and made some substitutions for a more interesting flavor.



  • Pickled Cabbage Leaves

  • Pickled Veggie Salad - Traditionally Sauerkraut would be used, but we thought this would make an interesting substitution.

  • Ground Beef

  • Bacon, cut into pieces

  • Diced Onion

  • Herbs & Spices: Red Pepper Flakes & Cayenne Pepper, Parsley, Garlic, Turmeric, Salt. - Typically the Bosnian "allspice" called Vegeta would be used instead of this list here. However MSG gives me migraines, so I looked up various recipes for a homemade version and kinda winged it.

  • Goat Cheese - The original recipe doesn't contain cheese, but few things can't be made better with the addition of goat cheese.


    1. Add a layer of the pickled mixed veggie salad or sauerkraut to the bottom of a slow cooker.
    Step1 VeggieSalad

    2. Combine all remaining ingredients except cabbage leaves in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Add spices to taste, there's great flexibility here. You can even use ground lamb or other meats if desired.
    Bowl Mixed

    3. Carefully remove cabbage leaves from packaging and unwrap. Place a lump of the ground beef mixture at one end. Fold the end over and begin to roll it up, folding the ends in as you go.
    Cabbage Leaves Rolling

    4. Place the rolls in the slow cooker on top of the first layer. I was able to create two layers of cabbage rolls before I ran out of room.

    5. Add another layer of the pickled veggie salad or sauerkraut on top of the cabbage rolls. Cook on high heat for 6 hours to ensure the meat is thoroughly cooked. The juice from the salad and the meat juices will form a natural sauce that, once boiling, will help cook the cabbage rolls.
    Layered Cooking

    Once done, serve the rolls hot with some of the veggie salad. Optionally, also add a dollop of sour cream.

    Extras: Sarma Scramble

    Of course, we ended up with far more meat mixture than we had cabbage leaves or room in the cooker. So I cooked the rest of it up in a pan, and served some of it with avocado and scrambled eggs. The rest is in the fridge, and we can throw some on our next few meals.

    Leftovers Pan Cook Scrambled Eggs Sarma Scramble

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