To separate apples from oranges, I decided to do two blog posts for the golubtsy, vegetarian recipe independently from the non-vegetarian, so as to keep both camps happy.
1 medium to big cabbage (white & round)
200g cooked rice (you can use Veetee jasmine rice)
1 medium carrot
1 finely chopped onion
300g fresh chestnut mushrooms
3 tbsp butter
a small tub of soured cream
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 tsp dried mint or parsley
3 small tomatoes
olives to serve (optional)
Thinly slice the carrot and onion and fry with the small amount of butter/oil until the onion is translucent. Chop and fry the mushrooms for 5 minutes. Mix all the ingredients: cooked rice, carrot, onion, mushrooms, add salt and pepper. Leave it to cool.
In the meantime prepare the cabbage. Place the cabbage in the salted hot boiling water for 5 minutes, then take it out, and remove the leaves carefully, try not to tear them. If the inner leaves are sitting too tight, place the cabbage back in the boiling water for another 5 minutes. Once you have a stash of leaves, put them all, one by one back in the pot and cook for about 5 minutes. Take them out of the water and drain in the colander.
Now each cabbage leaf will be your envelope for the stuffing. Flatten each leaf and depending on the size of the leaf place 1+ tbsp of the stuffing. Fold the cabbage leaf like an envelope. If it is not big enough and doesn't want to stay put as a pocket, you might use the cotton thread to wrap around the envelope to keep it together while cooking.
The next step: melt 1 tbsp of butter in the frying pan and fry the golubtsy about 4-5 mins on each side.
Take a deep ceramic or glass oven dish and put all the stuffed cabbage envelopes together. Add a bit of water and the pot of the soured cream mixed with the ketchup and dried mint. Chop a few small tomatoes and add on top of the golubtsy. Add the remaining 1 tbsp of butter on top. Cover the dish with a lid and cook at 180C for about 45 minutes.
Remove the cotton thread before serving.
Serve hot with a slice of lemon, green olives and a chunk of good bread.
The Soviet cook book "Kulinariya" published in 1955 gives several great suggestions for the golubtsy:
a. Make the stuffing with the fried thinly sliced carrot and onion, chopped hard boiled eggs, rice and dill. Serve in the milk-based white sauce (bechamel-style)
b. Chop the quince finely, cook in boiling water with a bit of sugar, mix with the fried thinly sliced carrot, onion, raisins, cooked rice and dill. The white sauce is made, using the water in which the quince was cooked. The book also suggests a substitute for the quince: pears or apples. The cabbage stuffed wit this mix is served with a dish of icing sugar, mixed with the cinnamon. I haven't tried this version, but it sounds quite unusual and I might experiment with it one day, though I am not sure how the cabbage will work with the icing sugar.
c. Vegetables like carrots, aubergine, sweet pepper, tomatoes are sliced and fried and mixed with the cooked rice. The sauce is made with the soured cream.
d. Then there's the variation which uses the cottage cheese with the rice: mix them with the chopped hard boiled egg, serve in the soured cream sauce with lots of fresh dill or parsley.
I have also found some recipes on the Russian vegetarian forums which use tofu but personally I don't like it (I don't dislike it but let's say, I am indifferent to it). But if tofu is your thing, then try it instead of the mushrooms.