There are a lot of components to this that all fit together nicely. It is good to have all ingredients prepped before you build the cabbage rolls.
First off, make a sweet and sour tomato sauce. Sauté a rounded teaspoon of garlic in a small pan. Add 6 cups of diced tomatoes. Use fresh or canned tomatoes, depending on the time of year. Add 2 tablespoons white vinegar, 1 tablespoon of sugar, cracked black pepper and salt to taste.
I like barley in my stuffed cabbage, but rice can be used as well. It does need to be cooked though. I use 2/3rd cup of barley, and cook it in 3 cups of water until it is done. Set aside.
Sauté a chopped Vidalia onion along with a heaping teaspoon of minced garlic in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Stir in 2 tablespoons of tomato paste. Add a splash of red wine, ½ cup of the sweet and sour tomato sauce, at least 2 tablespoons of fresh parsley, 1 teaspoon thyme, and other fresh herbs such as marjoram, chervil in small quantity if you have them.
In large bowl, place 1 ½ pounds of hamburger, 1 egg, the cooked barley, and the above mixture of onions, garlic, tomato paste, wine, sauce and herbs. Mix together well.
In large pot, prepare the cabbage leaves. I use Savoy cabbage, as it rolls up SO well. Pull off the outer leaves. If they don’t look good, toss them out, and go to the next layer. I cut the middle tough stem out in a V shape with a sharp knife. In any of the cole crops (collard greens, Swiss chard, cabbage, etc) the inner stem can make the dish very tough and bitter. Anyway, heat a large pot of water to poach the leaves in. I get them to a very bright green, and remove from heat. Put into colander and cool down with cold water. Let them cool.
Then the fun begins. Assemble. Lay one leaf (with V cut out) and pull the leaf parts together. Put ½ cup of meat mixture on leaf. Lay this the opposite of the V, so it will roll up without having the meat fall out. I do the top, the roll the sides, and then the bottom. It look rather like a little sleeping bag. Place these in a casserole with the seam downwards. Then sprinkle the sauce over them. I cover mine so keep them moist. They cook for about 45 minutes at 350 degrees.