Vegan Stuffed Cabbage (Cabbage Rolls)

Good morning everyone,

Cabbage rolls.  Every Oma should know how to make a good cabbage roll and a delicious sauce.  A good cabbage roll is wholesome, filling and usually stuffed with pork, beef or lamb.  These cabbage rolls come close to that flavour though, with the use of dark, meaty green lentils, short grain rice and careful seasoning.

They take time to make from scratch.  Definitely not a quick meal but well worth the wait.  I really enjoy the process from beginning to end, knowing that I am making a healthy, delicious meal for the family.

These rolls are vegan.  As always, feel free to experiment with spices that you enjoy and even with your sauce.  Mine is a little sweet, thanks to dried cranberries, and the filling is a little spicy, thanks to some cumin and lots of black pepper.

Vegan Stuffed Cabbage (Cabbage Rolls)

Cabbage and stuffing:
1 large head of green cabbage
1 cup cooked short grain rice
3 cups cooked green or brown lentils
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tablespoons dried parsley or 4 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder

Sauce:

750 ml strained tomatoes
1 cup water
6 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Remaining cabbage, (centre of head and remnants from above), finely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 cup dried cranberries

Cook your rice and lentils and set aside to cool.  Bring a large pot of unsalted water to a boil.  While waiting for the water to boil, remove the outer leaves of the cabbage and discard.  Wash and pat dry the cabbage.  Carefully remove as much of the core of the cabbage as possible.  When the water is boiling, reduce heat to medium and carefully place the cabbage in the pot.  Allow the head of cabbage to cook for about 3 to 4 minutes.  The outer leaves will begin to loosen and change their transparency slightly.  Using a pair of tongs, carefully remove the outer leaves one at a time.  Set these aside on a baking sheet or in a colander to cool.  When the leaves become too small for use, remove the remainder of the head of cabbage and set that aside to cool (at least 5 minutes).

Begin your sauce while the cabbage remnants are cooling.  Add the strained tomatoes, chopped tomato and water to a large pot.  Cover the pot and bring the mixture to a boil.  Immediately reduce heat to a simmer and simmer the mixture, covered for 5 minutes.  Finely chop your cabbage head and remnants (any leaves that broke while removing them earlier, for example).  Add these along with the onion, garlic, salt and pepper to the simmering mixture.  Cover and allow to simmer for at least 30 minutes, adding water as necessary to prevent the sauce from becoming too thick.  After 30 minutes, add the dried cranberries.  Return mixture to a simmer for 15 minutes.  Taste and adjust the seasonings.  Remove the sauce from the heat until ready to use.

While the sauce is simmering, trim your cabbage leaves.  With a small sharp knife, reduce the thick centre part of the stalk of each leaf.

In a large bowl, add the rice, lentils, and all remaining stuffing ingredients and mix well.  Taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking.

Preheat your oven to 220F.  Take one cabbage leaf and place it on your work surface inside up (so that it’s shaped like a bowl).  Place the thicker stalk toward you and the top edge of the leaf away from you.  Place about 1/3 cup of stuffing on the end of the leaf near you.  Roll the leaf firmly over the stuffing about 1/2 way.  Turn the sides of the leaf in, over the stuffing and continue to roll the leaf firmly.  Place the roll on a large plate or baking sheet with the seam end down.  (See the video for a demonstration of this process and how to deal with any slightly torn leaves).  Continue to roll leaves in this fashion until complete.  You will need to use a little less filling for the smaller leaves.

Using a large casserole, Dutch oven or baking dish, place about 1/3 of the sauce in the bottom, spreading it evenly.  Place the cabbage rolls on top of the sauce.  If you need to make a second layer of cabbage rolls, pour 1/3 of the sauce over the first later and place the next layer on this sauce.  Pour the final 1/3 of the sauce over the rolls.  Sprinkle a little black pepper over the sauce.

Cover the dish with a cover or aluminum foil.  Bake the rolls in the oven for 60 – 70 minutes.  Uncover the rolls for the last 10 minutes of baking.

Tips

You can add a bay leaf to this sauce (at the beginning) for a little more tang, which I often do.

You can kick the heat up a notch by adding 1 teaspoon of red chili powder to the sauce or increasing the chili powder in the filling.  We love doing this – we’re all about the spice here.

If you want a different sauce altogether omit the cranberries and replace them with one of the following options:

  • raisins and 1/4 tsp cinnamon, pinch of nutmeg
  • cumin, chopped dried apricot, 2 cloves, 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 apple, chopped finely, 1 tsp dried rosemary (or 1 tablespoon fresh)

I hope you and your family and friends enjoy these!  If you try them, let me know what you think of them!

Until next time,
Peace and love,
Himmat

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