Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

This super-easy weeknight meal is healthy, cheap and filling. Cabbage leaves are boiled until soft and pliable, stuffed with a simple lentil-walnut “ground beef” and rice filling (though there’s a paleo variation, a nut-free variation and an even cheaper variation listed below), rolled up and smothered in tomato sauce, then baked. I ate these all the time while training for the Colfax Marathon because I needed hella nutrients but didn’t have as much time to cook for myself.

Yield: About 8 Servings

  • 1 medium/large head green cabbage, rinsed
  • 1 jar tomato-basil pasta sauce (for this recipe I like Simple Truth, which is Kroger’s generic organic brand*)
  • Roughly 3 cups cooked brown rice (can be leftover)
  • 1 1/4 cup green or brown lentils (or you can use 3 cups leftover cooked lentils)
  • 1 bouillon cube or 2 tsp Better than Bouillon
  • Roughly 1.5 cups walnuts, soaked for at least 2 hours or overnight
  • 1.5 tsp chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp tamari, soy sauce or liquid aminos
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce (the Kroger generic brand is vegan**)
  • 3/4 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 3/4 tsp black pepper
  • Optional: cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes or hot sauce to taste

Note: If you don’t have one or a couple of the seasoning ingredients, it’s not the end of the world. Just season the filling with what you have until it’s nice and savory and you’re happy with it. If you want to use oregano and basil instead of cumin and coriander, it’s your world.

  1. In a small, covered pot, bring 2.5 cups of water to a boil with the lentils and bouillon. Lower heat to medium and cook, covered, until lentils are soft but not mushy (about 20 minutes.) Remove lentils from pot and allow to cool
  2. In a large pot on high heat, boil roughly two quarts of water (or enough to cover the cabbage) with a teaspoon of salt. Cut around the core of the cabbage. You don’t have to cut the core out, but cut around it so that you can easily detach the leaves once they’re soft
  3. Once the water is boiling, add the whole cabbage. As the outer leaves cook and soften, gently detach them so that the leaves underneath can cook too. Once each leaf is soft and pliable, remove it from the water and drain in a colander
  4. Drain and thoroughly rinse the walnuts, then pulse in a food processor until broken into small crumbles. Add the cooled lentils and pulse until crumbly as well
  5. Empty the lentils, walnuts and rice into a large mixing bowl and mix together with all of the seasoning ingredients (chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, coriander, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, balsamic vinegar, pepper and optional hot sauce/red pepper.) Taste and adjust to your liking
  6. Preheat your oven to 350F. Spread a large cabbage leaf out on a cutting board and cut out a triangle of the thick, stem-like piece at the bottom so that it’s easier to roll up. Spoon about three spoonfuls of filling into the middle of the leaf and roll up like a burrito or summer roll, tucking in the sides. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Repeat with each cabbage leaf until your filling is used up
  7. Spread about half the tomato sauce onto the bottom of a 9×13 baking pan. Place each cabbage roll into the pan- it’s fine to get them really crowded. Once your cabbage rolls are all packed into the pan, spread the rest of the tomato sauce on top
  8. Bake uncovered for about 25 minutes or until the tops of the rolls are wrinkly

Paleo Version: 

Use cauliflower rice and substitute soaked sunflower seeds and/or pumpkin seeds for the lentils. Use coconut aminos instead of soy sauce

Nut-Free Version:

Substitute soaked sunflower seeds and/or pumpkin seeds for the walnuts

Cheaper Version:

Omit the walnuts and just use all lentils




*if you want to make your tomato sauce from scratch, knock yourself out

**I’m not in any way affiliated with or compensated by Kroger or any affiliated brand, I just recommend some of their products because they’re on the affordable end of the spectrum and fairly widespread across the US.

Misir Wat: Ethiopian Red Lentil Stew

Misir Wat: Ethiopian Red Lentil Stew

Some of the best and most historic vegan dishes in the world come from Ethiopian cuisine. Misir wat is a tale as old as time, and it’s one of my all-time favorite classics. It’s simple and inexpensive to make, yet so hearty and healthy and flavorful.

As you can see, the flatbread shown in the photo above is not the traditional injera that should be served with misir wat. Believe me, my stomach and I wish it were, but I would be lying to you if I said that I’ve ever made a good batch of injera in my life. Making decent injera in your standard American kitchen is extremely tricky business, so if you can’t get or make good injera yourself, I recommend that you substitute it with a flatbread of your choice. (For gluten-free folks looking to make some at home, this recipe is wonderful.) You could theoretically serve it over rice as well, but it really makes a big difference to have a good flatbread that you can use to both serve the stew on top of and scoop up bites with. If you want to be that guy trying to eat Ethiopian food with a fork or spoon, that’s on you. We all make our own life choices.

Yield: 8 Cups

  • 2.5 Cups red lentils, rinsed
  • 3 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 2 large yellow onions or roughly 2 cups of shallots, diced
  • 2.5 Tbsp Berbere spice (you can buy it online, at many Afro-centric international markets, at many Whole Foods stores for a trillion dollars, or you can make it yourself)
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced- not trash garlic
  • 4 cups water
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  1. Heat a large pot on medium heat, adding no oil
  2. Add your onions and salt to the pan and saute them like so to get them golden-brown and caramelized. (Your olive oil gets added in once the excess water has been sweated out of the onions)
  3. Add your garlic and saute it until it’s also beginning to turn golden-brown
  4. Add your berbere spice and stir it in for about 15 seconds, allowing it to become fragrant
  5. Add your tomatoes, cover your pot and stir occasionally, allowing those tomatoes to really cook down and get saucy
  6. Add your lentils and water and cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are soft throughout. Add more water if needed. If you want to really be a pro, carefully allow the bottom layer of your lentils to start sticking to the pan and scalding, scraping them up and stirring just before they burn. Do this a few times- it will give the lentils a smooth texture and a rich, nutty flavor. Don’t worry about this if it sounds like too much.
  7. Taste and add more salt if desired. If would like to play around with adding more flavors at this point, you can squeeze in the juice of half a lemon, add a couple tablespoons of soy sauce/tamari/coconut aminos and/or worcestershire sauce, throw in a tablespoon of agave or other sweetener, and/or add in some bouillon. None of these additions are traditional or authentic at all, but they can give your stew a nice boost if you want.
  8. Serve with flatbread (ideally injera.) PSA: This dish keeps well and is great leftover.