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Turkey and Fennel Stuffed Cabbage

You’ve got to love a dish with the Yiddish name “galooptchy.” And indeed, galooptchy—stuffed cabbage leaves in rich tomato sauce—are beloved in Ashkenazi cooking. This version gets tenderness from ground turkey (which holds moisture better than the usual ground beef) and extra flavor from garlic powder and fennel seeds. Freezing the cabbage overnight softens the leaves for easy wrapping. This recipe is gluten-free. Recipe from The Essential Jewish Cookbook.
Prep Time 40 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs
Course Main Course
Cuisine Jewish


  • 1 large head green cabbage
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans tomato sauce
  • teaspoons dried basil
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 egg
  • 1 pound ground dark turkey
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • ½ cup uncooked long-grain white rice
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • fresh snipped parsley or other green herbs for garnish (optional)


  • Remove one outer layer of cabbage leaves and rinse and core the cabbage. Wrap and freeze overnight. About three hours before cooking, defrost the cabbage at room temperature. (Speed up the thawing process by running hot water over the cabbage.)
  • Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the tomato sauce, basil, sugar, ½ teaspoon of the kosher salt, and pepper to taste. Spread a thin layer of this sauce in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
  • In a large bowl, lightly beat the egg. Stir in the turkey, onion, remaining 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, additional pepper to taste, garlic powder, fennel seeds, rice, olive oil, and 1 tablespoon of the tomato sauce mixture.
  • Peel off 12 large cabbage leaves, and if desired, trim off the hard triangular rib from the base of the leaves to make rolling easier.
  • Place about 3 tablespoons of filling in each leaf. Fold the stem end over the filling, fold in the sides, and then roll up tightly like a burrito. Tightly pack the rolls, seam-side down, in the dish. Top with sauce. Cover and bake until the cabbage is tender and cuts easily, about 2 hours. Serve hot, garnished with snipped herbs if desired.


Make-Ahead Tip: The stuffed cabbage can be cooked 1 day ahead and covered and chilled. Reheat covered in a 350°F oven until hot, about 45 minutes.
Keyword Cabbage, Gluten-Free