Cabbage Rolls

Cabbage rolls are somewhat time-consuming but not difficult. You need to be organized and preferably prepare the filling the day before, but once you make them, you will be proud of yourself and will enjoy each and every bite, totally forgetting about all that work.

This is another Polish recipe, originally called Gołąbki ( pronounced ɡɔˈwɔmpki), which is traditionally made with minced meat (pork, I think).  The vegetarian / vegan option is not that common but is as delicious, or even better, as the original version. 
There are many varieties for the no meat filling - you can use white or brown rice, any type of groats, lentils, chickpeas, mushrooms. You can play with spices, cook in the original tomato sauce or broth based soy sauce and also you can choose whether to serve it with bread or potatoes. The possibilities are endless. Anything you choose will probably be delicious.

Ingredients (10-12 pieces):
  • medium size cabbage (any will do just as long as it has big leaves, I sometimes use chard also)
  • 200 g cooked green lentils
  • 200 g cooked brown rice
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 egg (if you want a vegan option, leave the egg out, the filling will be a little bit more loose but the taste will be the same)
  • handful of dried wild mushrooms
  • salt, pepper and thyme to taste
  • 1 tsp cumin (optional)
  • sugar
  • vegetable broth
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes or passata
  • some tomato purée to taste

Peel back the outer leaves of cabbage and throw away. Peel another 10-12 leaves and rinse. Bring large pot of salty water to a boil and drop cabbage leaves in; cover and cook for 3 minutes. Drain well.

For filling, pour some boiling broth over the dried mushrooms and leave it aside for 5 min. Drain and chop finely.
Heat up some olive oil in a frying pan, add chopped onion and cook for about 5min until translucent. Add crushed garlic and chopped mushroom and cook another 2min. Set it aside.

Combine cooked rice and lentils, prepared onion with mushrooms, egg and spices to taste. Mix well and divide into 10-12 portions. Place 1 portion of the filling in the center of each cabbage leaf and roll up, tucking in the ends. If the back of the leaf is thick and it's hard to bend, take a small knife and trim the back of it. After rolling, if needed, fasten the rolls with toothpicks. Place in a soup pot or baking or casserole dish. If you have some left over leaves you can place some of them on the bottom of the dish and leave a couple for top.

For sauce, combine 3-4 cups of vegetable broth, chopped tomatoes, 2 tbsp of tomato purée (can add more), pinch of sugar and pour over the cabbage rolls. Make sure the rolls are covered with the liquid. You might need to use more or less broth. Cover and cook on the stove for 30min or bake for 30-45min in 180C / 350F.


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