Monday, January 10, 2011

Vegetarian Cabbage Rolls

My visit to the farmer's market last weekend didn't turn up too much of a bounty for a couple reasons. A) it was the first day back after the Holidays and B) the market was closing in less than a week for two weeks to move to the new location. I managed to get a few items though and as I was roaming around I tried to think of something I could make that would incorporate cabbage (which there was plenty of) and wasn't a soup (becuase that is all I feel like I have been making lately). So naturally I went with cabbage rolls! Now since I don't have much of an appetite for ground meats these are a vegetarian variety. I have only make cabbage rolls once before and they weren't anything to write about. I actually quite liked these ones and would only make one minor change in the future, which I will mention after the recipe

Vegetarian Cabbage Rolls

1 tbsp olive oil
1 large carrot chopped finely
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
~15 white mushrooms
1 cup cooked rice
1 cup cooked lentils
1.5 cups sauce or seasoned stewed tomatoes
1 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp red chili flakes
1 tsp driedoregano
1 tsp dried basil

1 medium cabbage
tomato sauce or seasoned stewed tomatoes

1. Heat olive oil in a pan. Add onion and saute for 3-5 minutes until soft. Add carrots and saute another 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and garlic and sautee until mushrooms are cooked. Remove from pan into a large bowl.

2. Add rice, lentils, sauce, cheese and spices to mushroom mixture and stir well to combine.

3. To cook and separate the cabbage leaves I find the following method the best: Take a knife and cut the stump off as much as you can without sacrificing too much leaf. Then take a knife and further cut around the stump so a leaf would free itself if it wasn't so rigidly bound around the cabbage. Boil a pot of water, reduce to a simmer, and immerse the cabbage. As the outer leaves turn a brighter green and soft, they will fall off with ease. Remove the loosened leaf from the water once cooked well and allow to cool. Note: The cabbage will be very hot so handle with care. I tend to stick a fork in the stem for easier handling.

4. Take the cooked cabbage leaf and put the filling in the stem end.

5. Wrap up and place in a deep baking dish

6. Cover with a generous amount of sauce and bake at 350 degrees F for 35 to 40 minutes.

I loved these. Took some time with cooking the rice and the lentils but so worth it. The Parmesan cheese really makes it so I suggest not leaving it out (but it could definitely be substituted). For a vegan option you could use bread crumbs or soft tofu I suspect. The one thing I would change are the carrots. Next time I would probably shred them as the chunks kind of ruined the soft inside of the filling.

I don't want to spoil any surprises but my next recipe will be a soup. It is very different from what I usually make and has an interesting story behind it. Lets just say it was in the making for almost 3 hours. I will also leave you with a picture of the most complex cake I have ever made. My housemate Jenna and I made the Reese's Cup Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake from Annie's Eats for our good friend Dani's going away party. It was quite the treat!

I am off to continue reading Eat, Pray, Love (I have jumped on the bandwagon a little late).


  1. These are beautiful cabbage rolls! It is great that you are using lentils in this January recipe, as in Italy, lentils are eaten at the start of the year for good luck! Nonna made them this year too!

  2. These sound really good! Thanks for the tip on how to cook the cabbage leaves and keep them intact, I've never figured that out before. And for a vegan version I would use nutritional yeast =)

  3. YUM Cabbage rolls are a great way to slim down (since I tend to wrap EVERYTHING in bread! LOL) thanks for the kick butt recipe!