When you are craving comfort food that will leave you feeling great, these Vegetarian Cabbage Rolls with Quinoa are perfect! This recipe has become a cold-weather kitchen staple at my house, and I think you will love it too.
Cabbage rolls are a comfort food classic, but who says they need to be loaded with meat to be delicious?
This vegetarian cabbage rolls recipe has all the tastes of the original, and thanks to the addition of quinoa it still packs a punch of protein. (Plus, it is gluten free making it perfect for everyone!)
Give cabbage rolls with quinoa a try, and I think you will be hooked!
Ingredients for Making Vegetarian Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
- Green Cabbage: I don’t recommend red cabbage here, as the colors will bleed and make for an unattractive dish.
- Onion: Sweet or white onion work well.
- Bell Pepper: I prefer red or yellow.
- Quinoa: Use white quinoa or tri-colored quinoa for best results. Red quinoa has a texture that I find a bit too firm. If you don't care for quinoa, rice could also be used.
- Garlic: I love the flavor that comes from fresh cloves of garlic. If you don’t have fresh garlic, use ¼ teaspoon of garlic powder.
- Tomato Paste: I like to buy the kind in a tub so that leftovers are easy to save. If you have a can, use ice cube trays to freeze any leftovers.
- Vegetable Broth: Make your own for the fullest flavor.
- Parsley: Either dried or fresh will work well.
- Thyme: If you decide to use fresh, make sure you remove it from the stem and chop it finely.
- Salt and Pepper: Adjust the amount to your liking. I like about ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
- Vegetables: Either zucchini or carrots are nice here. Sometimes I use a mixture.
- Parmesan: Freshly grated parmesan will have the most flavor. To keep this recipe vegetarian, make sure you are using rennet free parmesan. Omit to make vegan cabbage rolls.
- Egg: I use a large egg. If you'd like to make this recipe vegan, you could omit the egg.
- Marinara: Either homemade or a good quality of store-bought marinara work well.
Tips, Tricks, and Variations
- Sauteed mushrooms make a nice “meaty” addition to the quinoa mixture.
- If you would like to mimic the texture and taste that comes from traditional ground beef, try adding in some meatless crumbles to your quinoa cabbage rolls. Just make sure you brown them in a large skillet before adding them to the quinoa mixture.
- For the best flavor, use homemade tomato sauce like my Slow Cooker Marinara.
How to Make This Vegetarian Stuffed Cabbage Rolls Recipe
First, start by removing the core from a head of cabbage.
Add salt to a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Add the cabbage to the boiling water and cover. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes.
Drain and place the cabbage in cold water.
Peel a cabbage leaf and place it on a paper towel. Continue peeling the remaining cabbage until you have a total of 12 large cabbage leaves for rolling.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Spray a saucepan with oil and heat to medium heat. Add the onion and pepper and cook until tender.
Stir in the quinoa, garlic, and tomato paste and cook for two more minutes.
After that, add the vegetable broth, parsley, thyme, salt, and pepper.
Bring to a simmer, and then reduce to low. Cover and cook for 30 minutes.
Sir in the zucchini and parmesan and recover. Allow to sit for 5 minutes off the heat.
Stir in the egg.
Divide the quinoa mixture among the cabbage leaves and place seam side down in a baking dish.
Top with the marinara.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.
Allow to sit for 10 minutes, and then serve warm.
Frequently Asked Questions
What type of cabbage is used for cabbage rolls?
Savoy cabbage is the preferred choice for making cabbage rolls due to its tender leaves that are easy to roll and stuff.
However, you can also use other types of cabbage such as green or Napa cabbage if you prefer.
How do you soften tough cabbage?
To soften tough cabbage, there are a few methods you can try:
- Blanching: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the whole head of cabbage. Cook for about 5-7 minutes until the outer leaves start to wilt and become soft. Remove from the water and allow it to cool before separating the leaves for stuffing.
- Freezing: Place the whole head of cabbage in a plastic bag and freeze it overnight. Once thawed, the leaves will be softer and easier to work with.
- Microwaving: Cut the core out of the head of cabbage and microwave it on high for 5-7 minutes until softened.
- Steaming: Place the whole head or separated leaves in a steamer basket over boiling water and steam for 5-10 minutes until softened.
More Quinoa Casserole Recipes to Try
- Quinoa Mac and Cheese is an easy vegetarian meal that even the kids will love. This kid-friendly recipe is one I turn to again and again.
- You won’t believe how deliciously filling this Broccoli Quinoa Casserole is.
- Roasted Veggie Quinoa Casserole is a delicious whole foods meal that is sure to leave you feeling your best.
- Craving all your favorite Italian flavors? You can feel good about serving this Italian Quinoa Casserole.
Vegetarian Cabbage Rolls with Quinoa
- 1 head green cabbage or savvoy cabbage
- 1 onion diced
- 1 red pepper chopped
- 1 cup quinoa rinsed
- 1 teaspoon garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 ½ cups vegetable broth
- 2 teaspoons dried parsley or 2 tablespoons fresh
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme or ½ tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1 cup diced zucchini or carrots
- ⅓ cup grated parmesan rennet free
- 1 egg beaten
- 2 cups marinara
- Remove the core from the cabbage. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- Cover and cook cabbage for 8 to 10 minutes.
- Drain and place in cold water. Peel 12 leaves for the rolls, cutting the thick vein from the leaves as necessary. Drain on towels.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Meanwhile, spray a medium saucepan with olive oil. Add onion and pepper and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, until tender.
- Add quinoa, garlic, and tomato paste and sauté for 2 minutes. Add vegetable broth, parsley, thyme, salt, and pepper.
- Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for 30 to 35 minutes. Stir in zucchini and Parmesan cheese and re-cover.
- Allow to sit off the heat for 5 minutes. Cool slightly and stir in the egg.
- Divide the quinoa mixture among the prepared cabbage leaves. Roll up leaves to enclose the filling. Place seam side down in a casserole pan.
- Top with the marinara
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Allow to sit for 10 minutes and serve.