This is my take on Rakott kelkaposzta as it’s known in Hungary or Varza a la Cluj, as it’s known in Romania. Rakott kelkaposzta means layers of cabbage and this is a good description of the dish. It’s made up with layers of cabbage and mince.
This dish is a traditional Hungarian recipe that was adopted in Romania, starting from the west of the country, as the name suggests. My mother used to make this with meat when I was a child. When I’ve started cooking, I used to make it with a mix of meat and soy mince, to make it less fat and healthier. Now, as a vegetarian, I make it only with soy mince and I like it as it is, even more than before.
It can be made with fresh cabbage, frozen chopped cabbage, or cabbage in brine know as sauerkraut. This time I’ve made it with frozen chopped cabbage because I had a pack in the freezer. The taste will be different if you are using sauerkraut, so my suggestion is to try both and see which one is your favourite.
If you are using fresh cabbage, cook it in a bit of oil on a frying pan. It will release some water and the Rakott kelkaposzta will not be too watery. If you are using sauerkraut, then rinse it in running water if it’s too salty. If not, use it as it is.
Ingredients for 6 servings:
– 750g frozen chopped cabbage
– 450g meat free mince
– 4 spoons oil
– 400g chopped tomatoes
– 2 tsp sea salt
– 2 freen-range eggs
– 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
– 1 tsp paprika
– 1 tsp basil
– 2 tsp parsley
– sour cream to serve
Start by defrosting the cabbage. In a bowl, mix the mince with a teaspoon of salt, the eggs, pepper, paprika, basil, and parsley. Using a sieve, drain the excess tomato juice from the chopped tomatoes. I used a spoon to help me. Tip the chopped tomatoes on top of the mince and mix with a spoon.
In another bowl, mix the cabbage with the oil and a teaspoon of sea salt. Pre heat the oven at 200C or 180C fan. While the oven is heating, oil the baking tray so it will not stick. Put a generous layer of cabbage and press it in the baking tray.
On top put the mince and press it down with the spoon. Add the remaining cabbage on top. Press this layer with a spoon too and pour the tomato juice that was previously drained from the chopped tomatoes.
Put the casserole in the hot oven and bake for around 60 minutes. Turn the tray after 40 minutes if you don’t use a fan assisted oven.
Enjoy the Rakott kelkaposzta hot with sour cream. It will be delicious.