Lahanodolmades, Greek stuffed cabbage rolls with tomato sauce
Λαχανοντολμάδες με σάλτσα ντομάτας. We feel sorry for cabbage. If vegetables were sentient beings, we could imagine cabbage sitting in the corner, huddled together with okra and eggplant, maligned and misunderstood. It’s no secret that many people, given the choice, would pass on cabbage. With a reputation for being gas-producing and unglamorous, cabbage is one of those vegetables that we can easily ignore, because we know that if and when we need it, it will be there.
Cabbage is indeed, a wonder of a vegetable. It is easy to find almost everywhere, tends to be inexpensive, and has a long shelf-life (handy for the cabbage procrastinators among us). When it is preserved as a sauerkraut or kimchi, it has an even longer shelf life!
In Greek cuisine cabbage is often used to make the classic, rustic Greek dish of lahanodolmades, or cabbage rolls. There are many ways to make cabbage rolls, including a version served with an avgolemono sauce (you can find that recipe here) and this way: lahanodolmades or cabbage rolls with tomato. Delicious either way you roll them!
What type of cabbage is used in cabbage rolls?
You can make cabbage rolls with many forms of cabbage. In this recipe we used your regular, run of the mill, head of green cabbage. This tends to be readily available, and inexpensive. We have also used savoy cabbage to make these cabbage rolls and to make our cabbage rolls with egg lemon sauce. Napa cabbage would also work well for these cabbage rolls with tomato.
Is cabbage good for you?
It certainly is! Cabbage is a very healthy vegetable, and all varieties will provide you with Vitamin C, potassium, fiber and very few calories. You can read some more about the nutritional benefits of cabbage here.
Are cabbage rolls Greek?
Cabbage rolls are one of those recipes that exist in so many cuisines. You will find them in Polish kitchens, Italian homes, Jewish cooking and Croatian dinners, and more. They go by different names, and in Greek they are called lahanodolmades: lahano means cabbage.
Can I make lahanodolmades or cabbage rolls with tomato vegan?
You sure can! Simply substitute the amount of ground meat called for in the recipe with either ground soy, or with cooked lentils. Either would be delicious, and the vegan cabbage rolls will be perfect for lent as well (if you follow the fasting rules for Orthodox Lent).
Enjoy our lahanodolmades or cabbage rolls with tomato. We think you might like these recipes too:
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Lahanodolmades: stuffed cabbage rolls with tomato
- 1 large head of cabbage we used green cabbage
- 200 grams combination of ground pork and veal see Recipe Notes
- ½ medium yellow onion, chopped
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¾ cups long grain rice, rinsed or soaked
- ¼ cup chopped green onions (about 5-6)
- ½ cup crushed tomato sauce, or passata
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup chopped flat leaf parsley
- ½ cup carrot, grated
- juice from 1/2 a lemon
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 2 cups boiling water
- 1 cup crushed tomato sauce of passata
- Fill a large pot (one big enough to hold your head of cabbage) with water and bring to a boil.1 large head of cabbage
- Remove the hard core from your cabbage, but not to the extent that your leaves start to fall apart. You should end up with a cone shaped cut-out where the core used to be.
- When your water is boiling, add your entire head of cabbage, core side down, and allow it to boil for approximately 10 minutes. Turn it over (so the core is facing up) and boil for another 5 minutes.
- Carefully remove your cabbage from the water and let cool slightly. Begin to carefully remove the cabbage leaves. If they are not soft, return your cabbage to the pot and boil for a bit longer. If you are able to remove some leaves, but notice that the inner ones appear to be too hard, return the remaining cabbage head to the boiling water. See video here.
- Place the cabbage leaves in a colander so that they can drain a little bit, and continue to cool. Set aside 3 - 4 leaves (perhaps some that may have torn) to line the bottom of your pot during the cooking process (see below)
- Heat olive oil in a large pot and sauté your yellow onion until it is soft and very slightly caramelized.¼ cup olive oil, ½ medium yellow onion, chopped
- Add your ground meat, and your rice. Stir and cook for a few minutes.200 grams combination of ground pork and veal, ¾ cups long grain rice, rinsed or soaked
- Add in your chopped green onion, followed by the tomato sauce, salt, pepper, parsley and grated carrot.¼ cup chopped green onions (about 5-6), ½ cup crushed tomato sauce, or passata, ¼ teaspoon pepper, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ cup chopped flat leaf parsley, ½ cup carrot, grated
- Squeeze half a lemon in the mixture. Stir and remove off the heat.juice from 1/2 a lemon
For the assembly
- Add the vegetable oil to a large pot.¼ cup vegetable oil
- Line the bottom of the pot with the reserved cabbage leaves.
- To make your cabbage rolls, take a cabbage leaf and cut away any remaining hard part (usually found in the middle of the leaf and going up about an inch or two). You can decide at this point to cut your cabbage leaf in half (to make small cabbage rolls) or leave it whole (to make larger cabbage rolls). We think the latter is easier.
- Place some filling in the bottom-center of your leaf (where the core would have been). The amount of filling you use will depend upon whether you use an entire or half a cabbage leaf, and on the size of your leaf. Use your judgment. We used about 2 tablespoons of filling for an entire cabbage leaf.
- Use the cabbage leaf to fold over the filling. Bring in the sides, and continue to roll up. It is almost like you are making a burrito. The key is to make sure that the filling is snug within the cabbage leaf so that it does not fall out. Because the rice will increase in volume as it cooks, do not wrap your cabbage rolls too tightly. Watch video here.
- As you fold each one, place them seam side down in the sauce pot.
- Repeat until all of the filling, or all of the cabbage leaves, are used.
- When you have placed all of your cabbage rolls in the pot, you can layer the top with any remaining cabbage leaves. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Boil some water in a kettle. Pour about 2 cups of boiling water into the pot with the cabbage leaves, along with the crushed tomato sauce or passata.2 cups boiling water, 1 cup crushed tomato sauce of passata
- When the water and tomato sauce come to a boil, reduce heat to medium. Cook, covered for about 1 hour 10 minutes. You can always remove a cabbage roll at this point to taste it and make sure that the rice is cooked. Remove any top layers of cabbage that you had covering your cabbage rolls and set aside.
- Let cool a bit, serve and enjoy!