Eat and Drink

Cabbage casserole is cheap and easy to prepare. The ingredients can be bought fresh from any store.  CABBAGE casserole (kaalilaatikko in Finnish) is the kind of food that everyone in Finland has tried, at least once in their lives. Similarly to the other members belonging the “laatikko family” of Finnish specialties – such as liver casserole (maksalaatikko) and carrot casserole (porkkanalaatikko) – it is easy to prepare, the ingredients don’t cost much and is made exclusively from fresh, domestic products of excellent quality. Healthy, filling, and definitely delicious, no wonder it is the favourite of many Finns, young and old alike!

Cabbage casserole typically contains a mixture of beef-pork minced meat – found from most supermarkets as a ready-made meal. Vegetarians can also enjoy it by replacing meat with soya powder. Either way, kaalilaatikko tastes best with a hearty side of lingonberry jam, an extremely successful flavour combination in all its simplicity.

Recipe for cabbage casserole (5-6 portions)
• Approx. 1 kg cabbage, the firm kind
• 1 1/2 tsp salt
• 1-2 onions
• 500 g beef-pork minced meat (or, for vegetarians, 2dl of
raw soya powder and 4dl of water for cooking)
• Black pepper (ground)
• Marjoram
• 2 cartons cream suitable for cooking (e.g. Valio’s ruokakerma )
• 1/2 dl cooked rice (the kind used to make rice porridge)
• Butter or margarine for frying

Cooking instructions
• Shred the cabbage and fine-chop the onions. Fry them in a
hot pan in butter or margarine. Pay attention not to overcook
the cabbage, so that it doesn’t dry.
• Fry the minced meat in a hot pan until it starts to brown
and soften. Season it to your taste. In case you are using
the vegetarian option, cook the 2dl of soya powder in 4dl of
• Grease an oven dish. Mix the cabbage, onion and cooked
rice with the fried minced meat or the cooked soya power
and pour the mixture to the dish. You can add more seasoning
at this point, if needed.
• Pour all the cream on top of the mixture.
• Bake in the oven at 175 degrees Celsius for about an hour
until the surface of the mixture becomes golden-brown.
You can also cover with aluminium foil, in order to avoid
over-cooking or burning.

This dish is almost as old as Finland itself, and an essential part of the Finnish core culinary tradition; as such, the recipe for cabbage casserole has been passed on from generation to generation. This is the reason why for many Finns a forkful of cabbage casserole gives rise to a wave of nostalgia, not only because it has been traditionally served at lunch in schools all over the country, but also because it is deeply connected to intimate family moments from one’s childhood: memories of placid family gatherings intertwined with the scent of freshly baked cabbage casserole, usually made by the beloved grandmother.

Kaalilaatikko is best served with lingonberry jam.It is therefore not at all surprising that some Finns declare that, if they happened to have visitors from the other end of the world, the one dish they would prepare for them is cabbage casserole. Undoubtedly a brilliant choice, since cabbage casserole represents Finnish home-made food at its best. You too can impress your friends, both foreign and Finnish, and why not, even your Finnish in-laws as well, by preparing a mouth-watering cabbage casserole according to the following recipe.