How to CookVegetarian

The Crazy Cabbage Hack That Will Make Prep 1000x Easier

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Are you a cabbage roll fan? Stumped as to how to make your own without tearing the individual leaves off of the head into uneven pieces? Anya Kassoff shares an easy trick to making them easy-breezy pliable from her latest cookbook, Simply Vibrant: All-Day Vegetarian Recipes for Colorful Plant-Based Cooking. Read on for her easy tip, and put it into action with her spring-perfect, meat-free version afterward.

Learn how to roll your way to golubtsi perfection.
Learn how to roll your way to golubtsi perfection. Photo by Ty Mecham

I created this recipe with a very particular Russian dish in mind, called golubtsi. They are cabbage rolls, traditionally stuffed with a very savory filling of meat and some veggies. I wanted to come up with a dish with very similar, comforting flavors, but made entirely with plant-based ingredients.

I've always been a bit intimidated by the idea of cabbage rolls because I know how hard it can be to separate leaves from a head of cabbage without ripping them. I read somewhere that freezing a head of cabbage can help make its leaves more flexible, and I was delighted to find that to be true when I finally got around to testing out that tip.

Once a head of cabbage has been completely frozen and defrosted, separating and rolling up the leaves is a breeze. These wholesome cabbage rolls can be made all year round, but I especially like preparing them in the spring―using young, fluffy cabbage with green outer leaves that are more tender, flavorful, and easier to roll.

Never battle with a head of cabbage again!
Never battle with a head of cabbage again! Photo by Ty Mecham

As delicious as these rolls are right away, their flavor greatly benefits from a couple of days in the refrigerator. They also freeze well, and seem to be even more savory after defrosting and reheating.

Note: For this recipe, make sure to plan in advance and leave at least 24 hours for the cabbage to freeze thoroughly and about as much time for thawing.

Spring Cabbage Rolls with Mushrooms, Lentils, Rice, and Tomato Sauce

Spring Cabbage Rolls with Mushrooms, Lentils, Rice, and Tomato Sauce

Anya Kassoff Anya Kassoff
Serves 6 to 8
  • 1 large white cabbage head, frozen whole for at least 24 hours, then thawed out completely
  • 2 tablespoons neutral coconut oil or olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons cumin seeds, freshly ground
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds, freshly ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • 1 pound (454 g) crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (optional)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup brown rice or other rice of choice
  • 1/2 cup green lentils, preferably soaked in purified water overnight
  • 1 28-oz (794 g) can or box of crushed tomatoes
  • Plain Greek yogurt or sour cream, for serving
Go to Recipe

What are your tips for cabbage roll success? Let us know in the comments!

Tags: Tips & Techniques, Wellness