Despite the warmer weather today, I know we’re not quite in the clear yet…a few weeks of wintery weather may still be upon us. Which means there will be many days left which call for the warming dishes of comfort food.
Last week, I turned to my quarter-Polish roots to prepare a vegan twist on the traditional cabbage roll. For the longest time, this was one dish that I never warmed up to until recently. I think it was the unusual color + size of the cabbage leaves that was a turn off.
Traditionally, cabbage rolls are prepared with ground pork, salt pork or ground beef combined with rice and onions. This recipe is based on the one my mother gave me, but I incorporated some coconut bacon to approximate the flavor of salt pork.
Despite the length of prep and cook time, this dish is simple to prepare.
So, what kind of dishes have you grown to love?
vegan cabbage rolls
Prep Time: 90 minutes
Cook Time: 2-3 hours
Keywords: bake saute entree gluten-free nut-free soy-free vegan vegetarian whole grain cabbage rice tomato sauce lentils
- 1 cabbage head, core removed
- 1 c. brown rice (organic is best)
- ½ c. brown lentils
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ c. coconut bacon
- 1 tsp. salt
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- 3-4 cups tomato sauce
For the Coconut Bacon (makes more than needed for the cabbage rolls- save the extra for other recipes!)
- 2 cups large, flaked coconut, unsweetened
- 3 T coconut aminos
- 2 tsp. liquid smoke
- ½ tsp. pure maple syrup
- ¼ tsp salt
Cook rice in 1 ¾ c. water until liquid is absorbed. In a separate pot, cook lentils in 1-1 ¼ c. water until tender.
Meanwhile, sauté onion and garlic in dairy free butter until tender; set aside.
To prepare cabbage leaves: place cabbage head in a large pot of boiling water. Use tongs to remove leaves one at a time as they become softened and loose (about 20-30 seconds between each leaf layer). Set aside.
When rice and lentils are cooked, combine, then mix in coconut bacon and seasonings.
Depending on the leaf size, spoon ¼-1/2 c. of rice/lentil mixture into each leaf. Fold in bottom and top and then roll closed.*
Cover the bottom of a glass baking dish with tomato sauce and place rolls seam side down into dish (you can do this as you roll each one). When all the rolls are prepared, pour remaining sauce over the rolls until they are almost completely covered.
Cover with foil and place in a 325 degree F oven and bake for 2-3 hours, turning down the temperature if needed to prevent burning. The rolls are cooked when most of the tomato sauce is absorbed.
for the Coconut Bacon
Add all ingredients to a bowl and stir to combine. Mixing by hand can help the liquids coat the coconut.
Let the mixture stand a few minutes while oven preheats to further aid absorption.
Spread coconut onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Bake 7-8 minutes, remove pan from oven, stir, then return pan oven.
Bake an additional 7-8 minutes, stirring once or twice to help coconut bacon cook evenly.
Remove from oven and let cool.
Depending on the size of your cabbage leaves, you will need anywhere from 12-18 leaves for this recipe. You can use the remainder of the cabbage in other recipes.
Cabbage rolls are formed similar to burritos or spring rolls. There are online tutorials of how to roll them if you are unsure of the correct method.
Carefully monitor the level of the tomato sauce, especially as the cooking time approaches the two hour mark
For the coconut bacon, you can use tamari or soy sauce in place of coconut aminos, but you will need to adjust the salt content. I like using coconut aminos because it is free of additives often found in soy sauce and tamari and it has a lower sodium content. Vitacost.com* offers a great price per bottle.
I use Wright’s Hickory Liquid Smoke because it is one of the few liquid smoke brands that is free of sugar and other additives.
*Clicking this link gives me credit to Vitacost’s Refer-a-Friend program