In my family, it isn’t a holiday without stuffed cabbage. It’s a Polish staple – we call them pigs in a blanket. Both of my grandfathers have their own recipes. They cook the stuffed cabbage in huge batches, which they labor over in the kitchen with love.
Typically the little bundles are filled with meat and rice – not so fit for a vegetarian. Now, I’m not a vegetarian, that’s no secret. I’ll gladly eat my grandpas’ traditional cooking, but I realized that if I ever wanted to make stuffed cabbage for my friends, there may be some vegetarians in the mix.
The only component I had to omit in the recipe was the meat. My conundrum was how to make a mixture to stuff the cabbages that wouldn’t leave rice loose in the center. My solution? Use tomato paste and eggs to make a thick filling. I crossed my fingers and hoped it would work.
Waiting to see if the stuffed cabbages would turn out was stressful. When you cook them, you layer cabbage over the top so that all the flavors get locked in. I couldn’t see if they were cooking properly, but I had faith. When I finally tasted them, I knew I had made a successful meatless version of stuffed cabbage.
Vegetarian Stuffed Cabbage
Servings depend on the number of cabbage leaves used. A medium head should yield ~12-15 single bundles.
- 1 medium head cabbage
- 1 white onion, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 c. green lentils, uncooked
- 2/3 c. brown rice, uncooked
- 1 – 6 oz. tomato paste
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp. ground thyme
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 tsp. parsley
- 1 – 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, no salt added
- 1 c. low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 tbsp. white vinegar
- 2 tsp. honey
- salt and pepper, to taste
- In a large pot, cover head of cabbage with water and bring to a boil. Cook just until the cabbage leaves look soft and pliable.
- Remove head of cabbage, allowing it to cool completely.
- When cool, remove the top few layers of the head of cabbage and dispose of those leaves.
- In a bowl, add onion, garlic, lentils, brown rice, tomato paste, eggs, thyme, oregano, parsley, salt and pepper. Mix until combined.
- In a large pot, combine tomatoes, broth, vinegar, honey, salt and pepper.
- Carefully tear off cabbage leaves.
- Place a spoonful of filling into the center of a cabbage leaf. Fold up the bottom and sides and roll up, similarly to how you would fold up a burrito.
- Layer cabbages in the pot on top of tomato mixture.
- Fill remaining space in pot with water.
- Layer leftover cabbage on top to cover the stuffed cabbages.
- Bring cabbages to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, turn heat to medium.
- Cook cabbages for 1.5 hours.
I just have to say, changing classic meat recipes into vegetarian dishes is quite the challenge for me! I have major respect for all of you crafty people.
Question of the Day:
>>Have you had stuffed cabbage before?
>>Does your family have a special name for stuffed cabbage?