The thing with cabbage rolls is that you can use these leaves and fill them with anything you might have in the pantry/or other kitchen staples. Today I’m sharing this vegetarian option for cabbage rolls filled with lentils, rice, spices and more. I’ve used two types of lentils but you can also use something else that you might have, such as, kidney beans, mung beans, any other legumes – but do give the larger legumes a good soak overnight and also cook them half way in a separate pot before you transfer them into a bowl where you combine your filling ingredients. This will ensure that your beans/legumes will be entirely cooked through at the end.
Some extra tips when making cabbage rolls:
- Use the freshest cabbage that you can find. Don’t use the half dry cabbage because the fresher the cabbage leaves are the more liquid and flavour they will give out. Autumn and winter are a great time for cabbage. Try using different sorts of cabbage like savoy or other.
- Use all the leaves apart from the very first few outside ones and the leaves surrounding the centre core of the cabbage. I like to use most of the leaves and try to use the entire cabbage apart from the centre…I compost the first few leaves as they are just a bit too tough but the rest of the usable leaves I separate and blanch in hot water. Once they are all in the pot I recommend cooking the cabbage rolls for longer as the dark and stronger leaves do take a bit longer to cook just to soften them. Just test one roll after about 1 hour of cooking and decide for yourself if you would like the cabbage rolls even softer.
- Don’t forget to season all the different elements and make sure there is enough liquid that just covers the cabbage rolls or 1 cm under so that the cabbage rolls all cook through evenly.
- Some nice ingredients and flavourings I recommend experimenting with is using different sorts of grains (rice or millet) and using fresh tomatoes, cooked tomatoes, passata sauce, grated carrot or diced capsicums. Freshly ground caraway seeds are also a nice addition to the meat mix.
- You can use pre cooked rice, half pre cooked rice or raw rice in the filling mixture.
Enjoy this one! xx
1 white or green savoy cabbage (outer leaves removed)
130g red lentils (pre soak 2-3 hours) (pre cooked halfway)
130g green lentils (pre soak 2-3 hours) (pre cooked halfway)
100g brown or white rice (pre cooked or at least half cooked) not basmati rice as it might disintegrate
1 onion (red or white,finely diced))
2 garlic cloves (crushed)
2 tsp sweet paprika
2 capsicums (stems and seeds removed, sliced into strips)
1 carrot (grated)
600-700g passata seasoned with salt (up to you how much passata you would like, add a bit of salt to it)
1 tbsp smoked paprika
pinch of cayenne pepper
spoonful of Adjika (optional)
1 bay leaf
yoghurt or sour cream – if you like you can also just top with crumbled feta
Variety of fresh herbs (mint, dill, parsley or coriander)
salt and pepper
- Prepare the filling first. In a bowl add the half cooked lentils, the rice, the onion, crushed garlic, sweet paprika, salt and pepper. Mix altogether thoroughly. Set aside.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.
- If you’re going to cook the cabbage rolls in the oven then preheat the oven to 180 degrees otherwise another common method is to just cook them in a large pot on the stove top.
- Remove the very first few outside cabbage leaves and discard as these are too tough to cook with (or place in the compost). Separate each cabbage leaf from the stem with the help of a small knife (removing the stem as you separate the leaves) until you get through most of the cabbage (I don’t use the central part of the cabbage as the leaves become too small – so just use as many as you can and save the smaller ones in the fridge to use at a later time).
- Blanch the leaves in bunches at the same time in the boiling hot water for approximately 2-3 minutes. Use kitchen tongs to continually do this and set the blanched leaves aside in a bowl. You can also slice the centre out of each leaf so that it will be easier to roll or just thinly slice off the edge that sticks out. Don’t worry if some of the leaves tear a little bit.
- On a wooden board start filling and rolling each cabbage leaf. Fill each leaf with approximately 1 heaped tablespoon of the mixture then cover with the end of the leaf and fold in the two sides and roll. Pour over a bit of passata on the base of your tray or pot and then place each cabbage roll as you make them directly into the tray (if cooking in the oven) or a large pot (if cooking on the stove top). As you place the cabbage rolls into your tray or pot – add the capsicum, carrot, and passata to as you fill them up, layer by layer. Once you’ve filled up the whole pot pour in some of the leftover blanching liquid (use enough liquid to cover most of the cabbage rolls – this will depend on the tray or pot that you’re using).
- Cover with some foil (if using a tray) or cover with a lid (if using a pot). Bring to a simmer and cook on a low heat continuously for approximately 1 and 1/2 hours or place into the oven and cook under 180 degrees if you are cooking the cabbage rolls in the oven.
- Taste the sauce, check that the cabbage rolls are cooked through and season with any extra salt if needed.
- Serve in a bowl along with the liquid (optional) and top with sour cream/yoghurt and fresh herbs/chilli flakes.