Sarma is the Turkish word for “something wrapped” and dolma is the word for “something stuffed”.  I made both for Sunday dinner.  It rained most of the day, the kind of hard rain that we desperately needed this summer.  A perfect excuse to stay inside.  Most Sundays we try to make something extra special for dinner.  I made some stock out of lamb bones and some leeks.  In the broth, I wilted whole cabbage leaves for the sarma.  After that, I cleaned and hollowed out the squash, tomatoes, and the red peppers.

Before & After

I was first introduced to sarma at a dinner made by the amazing Vesna (the mother of my best friend from high school).  Sarma or Dolma are dishes found in many countries in Eastern Europe, with many different variations.  Vesna’s is the Serbian version.  This is not Vesna’s nor is it an authentic recipe but a re-creation of my taste memory of the dish using what I have in my kitchen.  I might have committed a crime mixing dolma and sarma together!

*You’ll need some broth for simmering later.  You can either make it ahead of time or buy it.



  • 2 slices of thick bacon from Marr’s (cut into small pieces)
  • 1 whole onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 c. uncooked rice
  • 3 pieces carrots (grated)
  • 2 t. paprika
  • 3 t. Vegeta 
  • 1 t. ground black pepper
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 1/2 lb. ground beef from Marr’s
  • 3/4 cup sauerkraut

Put the bacon pieces in the pan and render the fat.  When the bacon fat has mostly melted off, add the onions, garlic, rice and later the carrots.  The meat goes in last.  Cook gently the meat is not pink anymore.  Add the sauerkraut.

You can pretty much use any vegetables you have for this dish.  For example, Swiss chard may be used in place of the cabbage.  The quantity depends of the size of wraps you make and the size of the vegetables.  All of the vegetables except for my garden tomatoes were purchased from Shooting Star Farm at the Mineral Point Farmers’ Market.

  • 8-10 large cabbage leaves
  • Italian sweet peppers
  • Roma tomatoes
  • squash

Warm up the broth and wilt the cabbage in the pot to make it easier to use for wrapping.  (Ideally, a whole head of sauerkraut cabbage that has been cured is used but I do not have access to that.)  Place all of the cabbage wraps and stuffed vegetables in a deep pan (with cover) and pour in some broth enough to cover the veggies 3/4 of the way.  Cover.  You can add some fresh leeks and more kraut on top if you like.  Simmer on low on the stove for at least 2 hours or until the vegetables are soft.  Enjoy with a dollop of sour cream.






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