Croatian Cabbage and Beans Stew – Prisiljeno zelje s grahom

Sister Stefania Papailiopulos (try reading that fast three times in a row) from Varaždin, Croatia, held this dish worthy to include it in her published book “Our food and our health” way back in 1939.

Stews are excellent for your digestion and are a necessity in your diet.
This stew is tangy, crispy and healthy. Croatians usually use sour cabbage (sauerkraut) for various stews in winter. During the summer, when fresh cabbage is available and sauerkraut is not yet prepared, this stew with a touch of vinegar has that sourly taste of sauerkraut. The original name in literal meaning says “forced” cabbage with beans, because fresh cabbage is forced to taste like it’s sour 😉

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Cabagge Beans Stew

Tools you need

  • Mandolin slicer is a useful tool to have in your kitchen and if you have one you can save time and use it to slice cabbage.
  • Chef’s knife to cut the cabbage and onion
  • Large cooking pot, about three liters or more to fit all the ingredients
  • Cutting board to, yes, cut things on it 🙂
  • Ladle to scoop the cabbage stew out of the pot and onto the plate once it’s ready
  • Measuring spoons if you’re a perfectionist and don’t want to guesstimate the spices 😉


  • half a head of fresh cabbage
  • 250 g of tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons of oil
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tablespoon of vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar, but all are good)
  • salt, pepper, sugar to taste
  • 500 ml of cooked beans (you can use canned)
  • Vegeta seasoning to taste (usually from half a teaspoon to a tablespoon or more)
    You’ll find Vegeta seasoning often in Croatian recipes, especially stews and soups. It gives them a distinctive aroma that’s hard to replicate without it. It contains a mix of finely cut dried vegetables and spices. It’s also salty so you may want to put it in and give it a taste before adding salt.


  1. Cut cabbage into stripes, thinner or wider as you prefer.
  2. In a large cooking pot heat up the oil and add finely chopped onion.
  3. When the onion gets transparent add cabbage stripes and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Splash vinegar and simmer until the cabbage is cooked. I like it crunchy, but if you prefer it to be softer, cook longer until it’s tender enough.
  5. Dust with flour, fry until the flour gets sticky and at than add tomato paste and sugar.
  6. Stir and add water to cover the cabbage.
  7. Boil for 5 minutes, than put the cooked beans in and cook just long enough to warm them up.
  8. Add more salt and pepper if needed.

Wrapping up

Serve with sausages, ribs, or just eat it with bread as a vegetarian treat that it is!
Our suggestion is to try this stew with ground meat fritters.

Which protein would you serve with this stew?

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