Cabbage Rolls, Wrapped in Phyllo, the salt mines

Okay, these are not cabbage rolls in the traditional sense.

I could call them ‘cigars’ like in the cooking of Morocco.

Or I could call them ‘nem’ like in the cooking of Vietnam.

Or spring rolls, like in the cooking of China.

But they’re not Moroccan, or Vietnamese, or Chinese….

They’re….. Mine

I made them and I get to decide what to call them.

After nine years I’m kind of running low on creative names….

Cabbage Rolls, Wrapped in Phyllo

Total time: 25 minutes


  • 2 sheets phyllo dough
  • 1 cup thinly sliced Savoy or green cabbage
  • 1 medium leek, thinly sliced
  • 1oz (30gr) bacon, chopped, 1 – 2 slices
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp crumbled sage
  • 1/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • Tomato Sauce:
  • 1 cup (8oz, 240gr) whole tomatoes, puréed
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp Balsamic vinegar

Cabbage Rolls


  • Fry bacon in oil until crisp. Remove and drain.
  • Add leeks to skillet and fry until wilted.
  • Add cabbage and fry until cabbage wilts slightly.
  • Remove leeks and cabbage, add bacon, ricotta, herbs and stir to combine.
  • Remove 1 sheet of pastry and re-wrap the rest.  It’s important to keep filo covered at all times or it will dry out very quickly.
  • Lay the sheet out flat and lightly brush all over with olive oil.
  • Cut phyllo sheet in half the long way.
  • Divide cabbage mixture into 4ths. Put 1/4th of the mixture at the end of each phyllo strip and roll up, folding the sides in a bit as you roll to seal the ends.
  • Brush all over with oil and place on a baking sheet.
  • Repeat with the remaining phyllo sheets, making 4 in all.
  • Bake at 400F (200C) for 10 – 12 minutes, until golden brown.
  • Tomato Sauce:
  • Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer
  • Simmer until needed.
  • To Serve:
  • Spoon some tomato sauce onto the plates, cut the rolls in half and serve.

Print Recipe

I use whole tomatoes from my freezer, puréed, for the tomato sauce. I think it even canned tomatoes give the sauce a fresher flavor than canned sauce…. and it has less salt.

Which leads nicely into another excerpt from my friend’s book…..

India’s Salt Workers in the Rann of Kutch

At 9 in the morning, the sky was burnished-blue, the temperature already over 40C. If you’re making salt, this is as good as it gets.

In a process almost as old as history, workers in the Rann tap into the region’s brackish, underground aquifers, then let the heat from the sun evaporate the water, leaving salt behind.

“After digging a well,” Shakti explains, “we make six shallow ponds with mud walls. Each pond is a little lower than the other. Then we pump water from the well into the first one. In a few days, we open a channel, allowing the water to flow to the next and so on. After about 30 days, the salt in the last pond is so concentrated it makes crystals. Every few days, we pump new water into the first pond again.

Every year, 15,000 families go to the Rann to make salt. They produce 10 million tons, about 70% of the country’s needs but despite this, the industry still has no health or safety regulations. Workers suffer from ulceration of feet and ankles from crystal abrasions; conditions are particularly difficult for women; many die in childbirth.

Western Gujarat is also prone to natural disaster. Not long before, three-metre-high tidal waves had surged across the Rann. Unofficial estimates put the death roll at 14,000 but no-one really knows how many died. “When we’re alive, no-one bothers with us,” says Shakti, bitterly. “Why would anyone care about our deaths?”

Like the other workers, Shakti returns to the pans every year because he sees no alternative. Nearly all are from low castes. Many are “untouchables,” but regardless of caste, they all share a common dream: to have their children enjoy a better life.

The next day, I meet Dr. Jhala, the founder of the Floating Desert School project; simple, inexpensive mobile schools, financed by private benefactors and NGOs. When I arrive, I find 30 children chanting lessons in a white tent, planted dramatically in a stark, brown landscape. The equipment consists only of a blackboard, slates and chalk but for these fortunate few youngsters, Dr Jhala’s school gives them an opportunity to escape from the life their parents have been condemned to lead.!cid_8F1CBC42A15945EA8E7E18E4AF82ACF1@PETER

If you are interested in reading more about Peter’s adventures in foreign lands have a look at his book:‘Here, There and Everywhere’

We’re still working on the wine…..

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