Cabbage casserole (kaalilaatikko) is a traditional Finnish casserole dish, made of cabbage, ground meat, rice or pearl barley. Flavoured with onion, syrup, salt and pepper. It is usually served with lingonberry jam.
Finland was very much an agricultural society until the 1950s. In such societies the sufficiency of food depended on the success of the harvest, so it’s quite clear that there were good years and bad years. The aftermath of wars lasted long and scarcity continued for many years after the wars.
Industrialization led to a major restructuring, which influenced also the food culture, but the great changes in food choice didn’t happen before the 1970’s.
Anyhow, cabbage casserole has always been a part of Finnish cuisine. People made food from cabbage because it stayed fresh over the winter in storage and thereby it wasn’t only seasonal food. Nowadays cabbage casserole is made especially from early cabbages because at that time they are at their sweetest. Originally this casserole was made from pearl barley, rice came later. I still prefer barley in my stews.
When I was a child I hated this food (not to mention summer soup made from milk and vegetables, cabbage rolls and herring stew). Now I absolutely love it, cabbage casserole is one of my favorites.
If possible, use pearl barley. If you use rice, choose Arborio.
Tags: cabbace casserole cabbace stew Finnish cuisine