We love a pantry-friendly vegetarian comfort food! As I share in my cookbook, I consider cabbage to be an underrated ingredient. This cabbage roll skillet is so satisfying with rice, lentils, fine walnuts, and a sour, spicy tomato sauce. I keep sauteing shredded cabbage with spices until I can get the sauce base on the stove. This method is definitely taken up a notch in the roasting step for stuffed cabbage rolls.
Inspiration for this recipe:
- I’m inspired here by the traditional, rolled up and self-contained stuffed cabbage leaves, also known as cabbage rolls.
- According to some sources, variations of cabbage rolls have been part of the Jewish culinary tradition for over 2000 years. Other studies place the origin of the recipe in Turkey. From there, they made their way across Europe, finding other countries’ versions in Romania, Ukraine, Croatia, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Poland and Sweden. To read more, check it out from the testing table.
- The unifying aspect of many recipes is the combination of meat, sometimes a grain and other spices stuffed into a cabbage leaf. Also, a tangy/acidic ingredient is usually involved (tomato sauce, sour cream on top, lingonberries, pickled cabbage itself).
- All of this is to say: my version is by no means traditional, but the flavor cues and overall recipe ingredients take notes from all of these culinary traditions.
To make these lazy cabbage rolls extra flavorful, I sauteed the cabbage with olive oil, garlic powder, and paprika. We caramelize the pieces until tender—no hard cabbage here! The sauce base consists of tomato paste, diced tomatoes and onions, garlic, dried thyme and a little finishing touch of vinegar, a hint of sugar and tamari for added depth.
French lentils and finely chopped walnuts make up our completely vegan protein base. I know walnuts sound a bit different, but they are soft alongside lentils and white long grain rice. Plus their taste is quite complimentary. Cooking rice in a skillet with everything else makes for one less pot to clean, which I’m always prepared for. I serve mine with vegan sour cream and chopped fresh dill.
Fans of this hearty and simple vegan dinner recipe may like my Smoky Chickpea, Cabbage, and Lentil Soup with Kale.
Vegan Shredded Cabbage Roll Skillet
This Vegan Shredded Cabbage Roll Skillet is a hearty winter meal that comes together, mostly on the stovetop and in about 1 hour. Cabbage is fried in spices and then combined with tomato sauce, lentils, rice and meaty walnuts.
- 4 table spoon Olive oil, split
- 1 small Cabbage head, cored and cut (about 6 cups shredded cabbage)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoon paprika, divided
- Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
- 1 the middle Yellow onion, small dice
- 3 cloves Garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ¾ the cup French lentils, uncooked
- ½ the cup White long grain rice, uncooked
- ⅓ the cup Walnuts, finely chopped
- 5.5 oz (162 ml) can of tomato paste
- 14.5 oz (428 mL) diced tomatoes
- 5 the cup Vegetable stock, plus extra
- 2 teaspoon Cane sugar, or other sweetener of choice
- 1 table spoon Tamari I’m Willow
- 1 teaspoon Apple cider vinegar
- Vegan sour cream, for serving
- Chopped dill or parsley (or both) for serving
- I like French lentils and white long grain rice for this recipe because their cooking times are fairly close and it all works out in the end. If you want to substitute brown rice, you’ll need to increase the amount of vegetable stock and go longer in the simmering time.
- Brown lentils would make a fine substitute for French as they have similar cooking times.
- My vegan sour cream recipe is available here here.
- I preheated my baking sheet with the oven so I got a little extra sizzle and browning action when the cabbage hit the sheet. Not 100% necessary, but nice to have.
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Place shredded cabbage on a large baking sheet. Toss the cabbage with 2 tablespoons olive oil, garlic powder, 1 teaspoon paprika, and some salt and pepper. Toss to coat evenly. Roast in the oven until tender and browned, about 40-45 minutes, flipping the cabbage at the halfway point. Set aside.
Heat a heavy-bottomed pot or braiser over medium heat. Once the pot is hot, add the remaining olive oil and swirl around. Add onion and sauté until soft and translucent, about 6-7 minutes. Lower the heat if the onions start to brown too quickly. Add garlic, dried thyme and remaining paprika. Stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add lentils, rice and walnuts and give it a stir. Add tomato paste to the pot. Keep stirring and cook it for 1 minute, to get rid of some of the raw “tin” taste. Add the chopped tomatoes and vegetable stock to the pot and stir. Season with salt and pepper.
Place a lid over the pot, slightly tilted. Bring the mixture to a boil and then simmer until the lentils are tender and the rice is cooked through, about 35-40 minutes. Keep checking to stir it frequently by scraping the bottom of the pot. If you find you need to add more vegetable stock, increase it by ½ cup.
Once the lentils and rice are cooked, stir in the sugar, tamari and apple cider vinegar. Check the sauce base for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Stir the roasted cabbage to combine.
Serve cabbage roll skillet with vegan sour cream and chopped dill/parsley. Enjoy!