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

April 23, 2018
2 Ratings
Photo by Ty Mecham
  • Serves 6 to 8
Author Notes

From Anya Kassoff's Simply Vibrant cookbook: “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. I recently learned the amazing trick of fully freezing and thawing a head of cabbage, which immensely improves the leaves’ ability to separate, along with their flexibility. 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.

Featured in: The Crazy Cabbage Hack That Will Make Prep 1000x Easier

Reprinted from Simply Vibrant by Anya Kassoff © 2018 by Anya Kassoff. Photographs © 2018 by Masha Davydova. Reprinted in arrangement with Roost Books, an imprint of Shambhala Publications, Inc. —Anya Kassoff

What You'll Need
  • 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
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, cut a deep, cone-shaped incision on the bottom of the cabbage and take out the core. Set it aside. Carefully separate cabbage leaves, one by one, taking care to keep them intact. Set aside all the smallest leaves that are too small for wrapping. Submerge the rest of the leaves into the boiling water and cook for 3 minutes. Drain the cabbage in a colander, rinse it under cold water, and let it sit in the colander to drain some more while you make the filling.
  2. Bring 2 1/2 cups of water to a boil in a tea kettle or saucepan.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium pot, warm the coconut or olive oil over medium heat. Add the cumin, coriander, and red pepper flakes, and cook for 1 minute, until fragrant. Add the onion and a pinch of salt, and sauté for 7 to 8 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Add mushrooms and thyme, if using, along with more salt and pepper to taste. Cook until all the liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms begin to brown, about 8 minutes.
  4. Add the rice and the boiling water to the pot. Cover and let the mixture simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. Add the lentils, cover the pot, and continue to simmer for another 15 minutes. Taste the mixture and add more salt, as desired.
  5. Chop the cabbage core roughly and arrange those pieces, along with all of the smaller, unused leaves, at the bottom of the same pot you used to blanch the cabbage leaves.
  6. Working with one blanched cabbage leaf at a time, add about 2 to 3 tablespoons of filling (depending on the size of the leaf) in the center. Fold the lower end over the filling, the fold in the sides and roll it up tightly. Repeat with the rest of the leaves and filling.
  7. Arrange the in a snug, single layer on top of the cabbage leaves inside the pot. When you can't fit any more rolls in one layer, cover them with about one third of the crushed tomatoes and continue with the next layer of rolls. Cover with another third of the crushed tomatoes, followed by the rest of the rolls. Finish with the remaining crushed tomatoes.
  8. Cover the pot and bring the tomatoes to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to a strong simmer and cook for 1 hour or until the cabbage is completely cooked and tender. Remove the pot from the heat and let the rolls cool slightly; serve with dollops of plain Greek yogurt or sour cream. The rolls will keep well in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat them in a pan, covered, over low heat. You can also freeze them up to 1 month.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Cheryl
  • jackieisabel

2 Reviews

jackieisabel April 3, 2023
🤤🤤🤤🤤 Delicious
Cheryl May 21, 2018
Even though this didn't say "spring" to me, I really liked it. Now I can have stuffed cabbage even though I eat a vegan diet. I froze the cabbage and then defrosted in the refrig where I forgot about it and it spoiled. So second head later, I borrowed a page from my former Hungarian mother-in-law's church cookbook and put the whole head upside down in a pot of simmering water and as the outside leaves got soft, held the core with a fork and with knife in the other hand, cut off each leaf as it got pliable enough. Then per the cookbook instructions, I rinsed a small can of sauerkraut and distributed half on the bottom and half on the top. Next time I will try the Hungarian cookbook method of making the stuffing---but not cooking before stuffing in the leaves--and cooking for 1-1/2 hours. This method calls for 2 cans tomato sauce instead of the crushed tomatoes, adding that, and then adding enough water to cover completely. Don't forget garlic along with some paprika to the filling. Thank you!