These vegan cabbage rolls in tomato sauce are hearty, wholesome, and flavourful. They’re the perfect dish for the cooler months that the whole family can enjoy.
Have them with a side of bread, mashed potatoes, or enjoy them simply on their own. Being freezer friendly, you can make a big patch and enjoy them whenever you don’t feel like cooking.
Cabbage rolls are typically made with minced meat; however, this vegan recipe is made with vegetables, rice, lentils, herbs, served with a simple tomato sauce.
Using staple ingredients makes this dish so approachable and something you’ll be making time and time again.
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Tips for making these vegan cabbage rolls
Here are some tips for making these stuffed cabbage rolls:
- I wanted to make this recipe easy to make, so I used fresh cabbage leaves and canned brown lentils instead of fermented cabbage (sauerkraut) and dry lentils.
- You can use collard greens, savoy cabbage or even vine leaves with these rolls. If using the collard greens or vine leaves, you don’t need to cook them for as long, just enough time to cook the rice inside.
- If you’d prefer to bake them instead, you can do so for 1 hour instead of cooking on the stove. Make sure to add more liquid to the oven-safe pot and place cabbage leaves on the top to prevent the dish from burning and keep the moisture in. I haven’t tried this method personally, but I’ve seen others do it with great success.
- You can use this recipe as a base and adjust the seasoning and filling to your own taste. Mix up whatever veggies you have on hand with spices that you like. Get creative!
- Don’t skimp on the cooking time. Your cabbage rolls won’t be as soft and flavourful if you do. This is also important for the rice to cook.
- If you don’t have a food processor, chop all the veggies super fine by hand. If you do this method, you can add the olive oil to your pan straight away. Using a food processor extracts the moisture from the vegetables quicker, so this is why I cook them first and then add in the oil.
- Depending on how big your cabbage leaves are, the amount of filling you use will vary. Through all the testing that I did, I found that ⅓ -½ cup is required. The bigger the leaf, the more filling you add-in. If your cabbage head is slightly smaller, you’ll have some filling leftover. Use the rest of it for a soup, stew or stuff other vegetables with it.
What is the best type of cabbage for cabbage rolls?
The best type of cabbage for this recipe is just a simple green cabbage.
You can also use savoy cabbage (as mentioned above) or even red cabbage. It will be a sweeter dish, and the colour will obviously be different, but I’m sure enjoyable nevertheless!
Can these cabbage rolls be frozen?
Yes, they certainly can!
After rolling them, line them up on a sheet pan and freeze them separately. Then you can store them in a sealed bag without the rolls sticking to each other.
Thaw them out in the fridge and cook them as you would in the recipe from step 16 (having prepared the tomato sauce and shredded the cabbage).
They should keep in the freezer for up to two months.
What is the best method of removing cabbage leaves?
There are a few different ways that you can remove whole leaves from the cabbage head.
I’ll outline the three different methods that I’ve successfully used. It all starts with coring the cabbage by removing the thick core that holds the cabbage leaves together. Using a paring knife, cut on an angle around the base and remove as much of the core as you can.
At this point, you have three options:
- Freeze the whole cabbage and let it thaw out at room temperature. This will essentially make the cabbage limp enough for you to separate the leaves one by one without tearing them. The cook in boiling water as instructed in the recipe from here.
- Once the core is removed, sometimes the leaves are easy to remove by peeling them away from the base. If this isn’t working, try one of the other methods. This works for me most of the time. From there, cook in boiling water as instructed in the recipe from here.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and place the whole head of cabbage inside, ensuring that the whole head (or as much of it as possible) is under the water. Boil it for 10 minutes before removing carefully and letting it cool before removing the leaves. If you use this process, you don’t have to boil the leaves again before rolling them.
So there isn’t really the best method for removing leaves, but three different methods of doing the same thing. I’ve tried all three, and for me, option two is normally the easiest. This is also the best option if you don’t have a large enough pot to fit a whole head of cabbage into it.
Other recipes you’ll love:
- Rustic Eggplant Patties in Tomato Sauce
- Vegan Sweet Potato Gnocchi
- Turkish Stewed Green Beans
- Vegan Stuffed Peppers
- 3-Ingredient Cabbage Pasta
- Vegan Borscht (Beet Soup)