Greek cabbage rolls (lahanodolmades) with zucchini and rice

Greek cabbage rolls (lahanodolmades) filled with zucchini and rice and served with a rich and creamy egg-lemon (avgolemono) sauce. These vegetarian cabbage rolls are so delicious! The cabbage is sweet, the filling is filled with herbs and is light and delicate. The addition of the egg-lemon sauce over top is just amazing. This is a beautiful Greek meal – simple, real ingredients coming together to create a recipe that everyone will love!

Greek cabbage rolls (lahanodolmades) with zucchini and rice

These Greek cabbage rolls have a vegetarian filling. The base is grated zucchini and rice, with fresh herbs added for incredible flavour. There is fresh parsley and mint as well as green onions and red onions. These basic ingredients come together to create cabbage rolls the whole family will love. You can certainly serve them just like that, but a rich and frothy avgolemono sauce (egg lemon sauce) served over top really brings these lahanodolmades to the next level!

Greek cabbage rolls (lahanodolmades) with zucchini and rice

Why this recipe works

This is a fantastic recipe that makes great use of zucchini. By adding grated zucchini to the filling for the stuffed cabbage rolls you are also adding moisture (because the zucchini contains a lot of water). Doing so helps the rice cook, and ensures that your cabbage rolls are not dry.

I love that this recipe is one of my Baba’s favourites. He is an avid gardener and when his zucchini harvest is plentiful he loves to find ways to incorporate this summer squash into the food he cooks. In the summer he makes kolokithokeftedes (zucchini fritters) almost every day. He is also always making pita with the spinach, swiss chard and other greens he has in his garden. What a blessing!

My parents are resourceful and responsable when it comes to money, always looking for ways to do more with less. This recipe is pretty economical, and it can feed a crowd! When cabbage is in season, and on sale, it is especially wonderful to make this recipe. It is light yet filling, and will satisfy everyone around the table.

Key ingredients

These cabbage rolls only require a few ingredients, making this a simple and inexpensive recipe that can truly feed a crowd.

Cabbage – Either green cabbage or savoy cabbage works really well in this recipe. I have even made cabbage rolls with napa cabbage and that worked out great too!

Zucchini – Do not peel your zucchini – simply wash it and grate it. You also don’t have to worry about draining it, or squeezing out the excess water.

Rice – I use long grain rice in this recipe. I find that the texture it gives to the filling is wonderful, and it cooks up easily.

Green onions – Also called spring onions, I love including these because they give the peppery bite of an onion, but are milder in flavour.

Red onion – I prefer red onion for these cabbage rolls because they are a bit tastier than yellow onions typically.

Fresh herbs – Mint and parsley add a fresh flavour and beautiful touch of green to the filling.

Olive oil – Vegetables and herbs get sautéed in fragrant Greek olive oil bringing out more flavour.

Lemons – You will use lemon juice in both the filling and the egg-lemon sauce that gets poured over the cabbage rolls. The lemon juice brings brightness and freshness and is key to making these lahanodolmades something really special.

Eggs – Large eggs are used to make the avgolemono sauce.

Substitutions

Onions
Use yellow onions if you don’t have red onions.

Herbs
You can use different herbs if you prefer. Dill, chives and basil would all work really nicely. You can also use dried herbs if that is all you have on hand.

How to make

Making cabbage rolls and avgolemono sauce is really quite simple if you follow this recipe. It takes a bit of time, and prep, but the result is truly worth it!

Preparation

Prepare your cabbage:
1. 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. 
2. Place your entire head of cabbage (1 large cabbage), core side down, in a pot large enough to hold it and cover with water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium for 10 minutes. Turn the cabbage over so that the core is up, and continue to boil for another 5 minutes.
3. Drain cabbage and set aside to cool while you prepare the filling.

Instructions

Step 1
In a medium size pot sauté the 1 cup diced red onion in 2 tbsp olive oil until softened. Add the 3 chopped green onions and the 2½ cups chopped parsley, and ⅓ cup chopped mint. Saute for another minute or two, stirring regularly. Remove from the heat and stir in the 3½ cups grated zucchini, 2 cups long grain rice, 1 tbsp salt, ½ tbsp pepper, ⅓ cup olive oil and the juice of 2 lemons. Set aside to cool slightly.

Step 2
Add 2 tbsp olive oil to the bottom of a large pot. Line the bottom of the pot with a few cabbage leaves.

Step 3
Carefully separate out the cabbage leaves by carefully pulling them apart, one by one. If your cabbage leaves are very large you can cut them in half lengthwise.

Step 4
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.

Step 5
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. 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. You can watch a video here for reference.

Step 6
As you fold each one, place them seam side down in the sauce pot. Repeat until all the filling, or cabbage leaves, are used.

Step 7
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.

Step 8
Boil some water in a kettle.  Pour about 2 cups of boiling water into the pot with the cabbage leaves.

Greek cabbage rolls (lahanodolmades) with zucchini and rice

Step 9
When the water comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium. Cook, covered for about 1 hour 20 minutes.  Test 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.

Greek cabbage rolls (lahanodolmades) with zucchini and rice

Step 10 – Prepare the avgolemono sauce
Separate the yolk and egg whites from your 2 eggs.  With a hand held mixer or a standing mixer, whisk the egg whites until they are frothy.  Add in the egg yolks and continue to beat until well combined.  Add in the juice of 2 lemons, while whisking slowly.

Step 11
Remove one cup of broth which you will find in the pot with your cabbage rolls. While still whisking the egg-lemon mixture, slowly pour in the hot broth.  Then, pour your avgolemono sauce into the pot with your cabbage rolls.  Gently shake the pot so that the egg-lemon sauce falls to the bottom of the pot.

Cooking tips and helpful hints

Prepare your cabbage by boiling the entire head. If you are using a common green cabbage (the one with the firm and compact head), remove much of the core so that you are left with a cone cutout where the core used to be. Do this first, and then boil the cabbage. As you remove the leaves after boiling, if you find that the leaves in the center of the cabbage are not soft, return to the water and boil again for a few minutes.

Wrap your cabbage rolls correctly. Each roll should be wrapped in such a way that the filling will not fall out of any gaps. Also, do not wrap them too tightly. The rice in the filling will expand as it cooks and if you have wrapped your rolls too tautly, the cabbage leaf risks breaking as the stuffing cooks.

Greek cabbage rolls (lahanodolmades) with zucchini and rice

What to serve with

When I make cabbage rolls they are the main attraction of the meal. That doesn’t mean that I don’t serve them with some wonderful sides however. I tend to pair cabbage rolls with a delicious salad, like a Greek maroulosalata or a Greek village salad. Otherwise, a starter soup like a cream of tomato or Greek lentil soup is wonderful, and perfect for the chilly days of fall.

Recipe variations

These cabbage rolls with rice and zucchini filling are great, but there are some easy ways to change it up a bit.

Add ground meat

If you would prefer to have meat in your cabbage rolls all you have to do is cook up some ground meat, like ground pork, turkey or beef (or a combination of all three). Use 1/2 pound of meat for this recipe; fry it up and then add it to the filling.

Make unstuffed cabbage rolls

Prepare your cabbage as instructed in the recipe, but then cut the leaves into large chunks. Add all of the ingredients together in a pot, including the water, and cook until the rice is done. This is an easy way to get all of the flavours of the cabbage rolls with zucchini and rice, without the effort of actually stuffing your cabbage rolls.

Greek cabbage rolls (lahanodolmades) with zucchini and rice

Frequently asked questions

What is the best way to soften cabbage leaves?

I find that boiling the entire head of cabbage is the easiest way to soften the cabbage leaves. I remove most of the core, but not enough that the leaves fall apart, and boil it gently for 10 minutes, core side down. I then turn it over so that the core side is facing up and boil it for another 5 minutes or so. Sometimes, as I remove the outer leaves I find that the leaves in the center of the cabbage head are not quite soft. At this point, I return the remaining head of cabbage to the water and boil again for a few minutes.
You need to note however that some cabbage takes less time to have the leaves softened than others. For example, savoy cabbage does not need to boil as long as a green cabbage does.

Can I use any cabbage to make stuffed cabbage rolls?

I have made cabbage rolls using regular green cabbage, savoy cabbage and even napa cabbage. All of these have worked out beautifully. You just need to remember that the amount of time you boil the cabbage for (to soften the leaves) will vary. I find the savoy cabbage easier to work with, but all are delicious. I have never used red cabbage – I have a feeling that might just look odd as the colour fades.

Can you freeze cabbage rolls?

Yes you can! I have frozen cabbage rolls uncooked. I thaw them for a few hours in the refrigerator before cooking them as directed in the recipe. The cooking time may need to be extended by 30 minutes or so. Test one of your cabbage rolls for doneness – you want to be sure that the rice is cooked through.

I love to cook with cabbage and have a few more recipes that I think you will love! Also, another traditional Greek food that is similar to cabbage rolls is dolmades – or stuffed vine leaves. So amazing!

Lahanodolmades or cabbage rolls with tomato filled with meat and rice.

Cabbage rolls with egg-lemon sauce (Λαχανοντολμάδες με αυγολέμονο) with a vegetarian filling.

Dolmades (Ντολμάδες) another vegetarian option!

Lahanodolmades, Greek stuffed cabbage rolls with tomato sauce.
Greek cabbage rolls filled with rice, meat and herbs, topped with a rich egg lemon sauce
Vine leaves stuffed with rice and herbs. A Greek specialty!

Serving size

This recipe will make an average of about 35 cabbage rolls. This will depend of course on how large you make each cabbage roll. I usually serve about 4 – 5 cabbage rolls per person, with a side salad so with this recipe you can easily feed 7 – 8 people.

Storing and reheating

You can keep cooked lahanodolmades in the refrigerator for several days. You can also freeze them, uncooked for up to 6 months.

To reheat them, you can simply place them in the microwave (that is the easiest method). Alternatively you can reheat them in the oven in a casserole dish that is covered with some aluminum foil.

Greek cabbage rolls (lahanodolmades) with zucchini and rice
Greek cabbage rolls (lahanodolmades) with zucchini and rice

Connect with us!

We love hearing from you!  Leave a comment, ask a question, or just say Hi!

If you have made our recipe, don’t forget to rate it!

Follow us on social media! We have lots of fun there! You can find us on FacebookInstagram, YouTube, and Pinterest. 

Greek cabbage rolls (lahanodolmades) with zucchini and rice
Greek cabbage rolls (lahanodolmades) with zucchini and rice

Greek cabbage rolls (lahanodolmades) with zucchini and rice

Greek cabbage rolls, or lahanodolmades, filled with zucchini, rice and herbs. Served plain or with an avgolemono sauce.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Greek
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 35 cabbage rolls
Calories: 97kcal
Author: Billie Bitzas

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 1 large cabbage
  • 3 chopped green onions white and green part
  • cups chopped parsley
  • cup chopped mint
  • 1 cup diced red onion
  • cups grated zucchini
  • 2 cups long grain rice, uncooked
  • 2 tbsp olive oil for sauteeing
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • ½ tbsp pepper
  • cup olive oil
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 tbsp olive oil for bottom of pot

For the avgolemono

  • 2 lemons
  • 2 eggs

Instructions

Prepare your 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. 
  • Place your entire head of cabbage (1 large cabbage), core side down, in a pot large enough to hold it and cover with water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium for 10 minutes. Turn the cabbage over so that the core is up, and continue to boil for another 5 minutes.
  • Drain cabbage and set aside to cool while you prepare the filling.

Prepare the filling

  • In a medium size pot sauté the 1 cup diced red onion in 2 tbsp olive oil until softened. Add the 3 chopped green onions and the 2½ cups chopped parsley, and ⅓ cup chopped mint. Saute for another minute or two, stirring regularly. Remove from the heat and stir in the 3½ cups grated zucchini, 2 cups long grain rice, uncooked, 1 tbsp salt, ½ tbsp pepperr, ⅓ cup olive oil and the juice of 2 lemons. Set aside to cool slightly.

Prepare your cabbage rolls

  • Add 2 tbsp olive oil to the bottom of a large pot. Layer the bottom of the pot with a few cabbage pieces.
  • Carefully separate out the cabbage leaves by carefully pulling them apart, one by one. If your cabbage leaves are very large you can cut them in half lengthwise.
  • 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. 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. You can watch video here.
  • As you fold each one, place them seam side down in the sauce pot. Repeat until all the filling, or 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.
  • When the water comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium. Cook, covered for about 1 hour 20 minutes.  Test 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.

Prepare the avgolemono sauce

  • When the cabbage rolls are done, prepare your egg-lemon sauce.
  • Separate the yolk and egg whites from your 2 eggs.  With a hand held mixer or a standing mixer, whisk the egg whites until they are frothy.  Add in the egg yolks and continue to beat until well combined.  Add in the juice of 2 lemons, while whisking slowly.
  • Remove one cup of broth which you will find in the pot with your cabbage rolls. While still whisking the egg-lemon mixture, slowly pour in the hot broth.  Then, pour your avgolemono sauce into the pot with your cabbage rolls.  Gently shake the pot so that the egg-lemon sauce falls to the bottom of the pot.
  • Serve and enjoy!

Nutrition

Calories: 97kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.001g | Cholesterol: 9mg | Sodium: 217mg | Potassium: 164mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 470IU | Vitamin C: 29mg | Calcium: 33mg | Iron: 1mg

Thanks for sharing!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating