These stuffed vegan cabbage rolls are made with tender leaves of steamed cabbage wrapped around a savory, smoky mixture of quinoa and lentils, baked up in tomato sauce until piping hot.
This is kind of a funny recipe for me. See, back when I started blogging, I never expected to post a recipe for vegan stuffed cabbage rolls. I felt like nobody would want vegan recipes for things they grew up eating. Boy have I learned a lot since then.
I realize now that you guys (an myself as well) are just as into delicious vegan versions of old favorites as totally original creations.
Here’s the thing about these vegan cabbage rolls: I first made them, like, two years ago when I was playing around with some leftover cabbage. My husband and I loved them, but I think we both came to the conclusion that they weren’t my speed when it came to blog material.
Since then I’ve had delicious success with vegan remakes of all kinds of traditional favorites, and you guys seem to love them.
So I remade my cabbage rolls a few weeks ago, and you know what? I’m really glad I didn’t post them the first time around, because who knows if I’d have ever gotten around to making them again, and they’re so good.
We polished these off with a big old plate of mashed potatoes. I wouldn’t even let my husband take the leftovers to work. That’s how much I loved these suckers.
Do they taste like non-vegan stuffed cabbage? I’m not sure. Hey, it’s been a while. But they’re savory, smoky and delicious. A big old plate of winter comfort food, and pretty darn healthy to boot. Can’t beat that.
Tips for Making Perfect Vegan Cabbage Rolls
- This recipe requires about 1 small or 1/2 of a large head of cabbage. I recommend using a large one, and just using the outer leaves. These leaves will be larger and easier to roll than leaves from a small head of cabbage.
- Want to keep this recipe gluten-free? Use gluten-free tamari instead of soy sauce.
- Make-ahead option: Assemble the rolls and arrange them in your baking dish with the sauce up to a day in advance. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Then uncover and bake according to the recipe when you’re ready to serve them.
Quinoa & Lentil Stuffed Vegan Cabbage Rolls
- 1 head of green cabbage, see note
For the Filling
- 3/4 cup dried brown lentils
- 3 cups water
- 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
For the Sauce:
- 1 (28 ounce) can tomato puree
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup, or sweetener of choice
- 1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
Place about 3 inches of water into a large pot and add cabbage. Place over high heat. Bring to a boil, lower heat and and cover. Allow to steam until leaves peel off easily, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.
While the cabbage steams, begin preparing the filling. Place the water into a small saucepan and add lentils. Bring the water to a boil, lower heat and allow to simmer until lentils are just fully cooked, about 35 minutes, adding water to the pot as needed. When lentils are finished cooking, drain any excess liquid.
While the lentils simmer, place broth into a small saucepan and add quinoa. Place over high heat and bring to boil. Lower heat, cover and allow to simmer until all of the water is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to sit with the lid on the pot for 5 minutes.
Coat the bottom of a large skillet with oil and place over medium heat. Add onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups of the cooked lentils and 1 cup of the cooked quinoa, along with red wine vinegar, soy sauce, smoked paprika, salt and pepper to taste. Flip a few times just to combine the ingredients, then remove from heat.
Preheat the oven to 350°.
Stir all sauce ingredients together in a small bowl, then distribute about 1/2 cup of the sauce into the bottom of 9 x 9 inch baking dish.
Peel a leaf off of the cabbage head and place it onto a work surface with the stem side facing you. Trim any very thick portions of the leaf near the base. Spoon 3 to 4 tablespoons of filling onto the center of the leaf. Fold the base side over the filling, then wrap the sides inward over the filling. Roll the center away from you to wrap everything up. Place the roll, seam side down, into the baking dish. Repeat until all of the filling is used.
Spoon remaining sauce over the rolls, cover and bake for 1 hour. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.
You only need a small head of cabbage for this, but in order to get the most large, easily rollable leaves, I suggest going with a large head and only using the larger, outermost layers of leaves. You can save the rest for another use.