Cabbage Rolls (No Meat! No Dairy!)

Holishkes or Cabbage rolls covered with tomato...
Cabbage rolls with tomato sauce. Image by sheila miguez via Wikipedia

This time of year, cabbage is a staple British vegetable and I get a head of cabbage in every veggie box.  Sometimes it’s purple, sometimes it’s green.  Last week’s was a green variety with a thinner, white veined leaf, with curly edges tinged with purple.  Looking for a different way of eating it, I decided to try a vegetarian cabbage roll.

I hadn’t made cabbage rolls in years, not since I have been a veggie, and not for many years previously. In fact, I think I may only have ever made them once before, when I was about 20 and that is a few years ago! Ha ha ha! Goodness gracious, how time flies when you’re living a life!

I mulled over what to replace the ground beef with, and decided quinoa and mushrooms might be a good combination.


Saute together:


  • 250 grams sliced white cap mushrooms I think a chestnut mushroom, or chopped, flat mushrooms would be better.  The white cap didn’t have enough flavor
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, minced I think I may be becoming immune to the taste of garlic because I swear there wasn’t enough
  • the green part of a leek it wasn’t enough, could have used a whole leek


And add to:


  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa cook in double amount of water


For the tomato sauce, simmer together:


English: green cabbage
Image via Wikipedia


  • 1000 gm tomato passata
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp hot chillies


Core a medium size cabbage and cook for about 5 minutes in boiling water.

Remove the cabbage from the pot, drain and peel off the leaves.  Place about a Tablespoon of the quinoa mushroom mixture in the centre of the leaf, roll up and fold over to make little packages and place those in a medium size baking casserole dish (with a fitted cover).

When the cabbage leaves are all used up, pour the tomato sauce over the cabbage rolls so they are covered in sauce, and slide a knife along the sides of the dish to shift the rolls to let the tomato sauce get to the bottom.  The tomato sauce will probably bubble a little as it seeps into the cabbage rolls and takes the place of the air.

Put in a slow oven (about 140C) and bake for an hour.


These were definitely better the second day, but even then, they needed something.  I had thought about adding sea vegetable to the quinoa-mushroom mixture, and think I should have.  I didn’t have any salt! and the sea vegetable would have added some salt.  Today I made a beany tomato soup and used some kombu sea vegetable and it was delicious (recipe soon), but these quinoa-mushroom cabbage rolls were disappointing.


I think some mashed swede would add an interesting flavor and give the filling a better consistency.  The quinoa and mushrooms weren’t really sticky enough.  Perhaps a mixture of quinoa and sticky rice with mushrooms and sea vegetable would work better. I am not sure I will be trying these again anytime soon as they were a lot of work.  But if you have some ideas on how to make these tastier, let me know and you may inspire me to make them again!

…and just in case you’re wondering, I did my dishes while I cooked and my kitchen is squeaky clean.  I should take a picture and post it so you can see that I generally do keep a clean kitchen.  It isn’t always a disaster zone as it was when I was doing my Christmas cooking marathon! I am NOT a slob! I am actually a bit of a neat freak; not maniacal but I do like things clean and orderly, with ‘private’ chaos zones…places where I can have a creativity mess.  You know what I mean! oh that’s another blog post!




6 thoughts on “Cabbage Rolls (No Meat! No Dairy!)

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      1. I think that’s how they were supposed to taste. Cabbage rolls in general ARE bland. I’ve made them twice now, both times they were bland. This last time, the marinara sauce and the lemon juice/olive oil concoction flavored it, but that was ALL I tasted. If I hadn’t added that, they would have been tasteless.
        Not sure about the sticking part…my insides weren’t sticky either. They were light and fluffy, like a rice blend with veggies. They rolled nicely, but when I cut into them, they fell apart. I thought they were supposed to.
        I think yours turned out normal, you just had a different expectation in mind, maybe?
        Anyway, they are a lot of work. Very time-consuming. NOT something I’ll be making anytime soon, unless I have to entertain kids. Rolling and stirring would keep those little hands busy! 🙂
        I still think you did great. You made them. And that right there was a feat in and of itself. Bravo to you from me!

      2. Yeah – well, did you see the link for for almost cabbage rolls? This woman makes the basic ingredients but instead of rolling and stuffing the cabbage she just cuts it into chunks and garnishes it with the other ingredients. Seems a good solution to me. Mind you I did eat this for two days!

  1. I made some a zillion years ago and they were ok. Can’t for the life of me remember what went in them though.. Tomato sauce is a must. Puts on thinking cap, I reckon it was probably rice and mushies, herbs, garlic the usual. Other options would be TVP mince, or ground almonds, or maybe ground (toasted) hazlenuts. That would def give a bit of different flavour.

    I don’t think they are meant to be sticky inside.I wouldn’t have used quinoa, would have chosen rice and a paella, or arborio rice would serve I should think. Seaweed? defo. Another option, sauteed tempeh pieces.

    Not that I have cooked them for ages. Must look up a recipe and come back – I think one was a pasta one. That would give you the sticky stuff 😀

    1. I chose the quinoa for the protein content. Don’t use mince – it cause allergic reaction and my face swells up. Too much wheat I suspect. Though a soy mince would work. If I try them again I’ll use a sticky rice, sea veg, tastier shrooms…also my friend gicrockpot posted what looks a good veggie recipe. Don’t think I’ll be making them again anytime soon! Too much work for such bland results!

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