Vegetarian Quinoa Cabbage Rolls

col relleno de quinoa - Chris CiolliWhen I want to see my friend Carmen, it never fails, I can lure her in with stuffed cabbage. Any variation on cabbage rolls, and she comes knocking at my front door. Since I was recently gifted with a homegrown head of cabbage, fruit of my father-in-law’s gardening habits, and I hadn’t seen Carmen in quite some time, I figured, why not?

Some people have one cabbage roll recipe and that’s what they make when they crave cabbage rolls (yes, some of us do “crave” cabbage) or have an excess of cabbage. Me, I’m a fan of variety, and not rushing to the supermarket because I don’t have this or that ingredient. So while most often my cabbage rolls include some kind of meat (usually ground beef or pork, or chunks of bacon) this weekend I went with a vegetarian version. And since I was running low on rice, I made them with quinoa, instead.

Hope you enjoy!

Ingredients Vegetarian Quinoa Cabbage Rolls (serves 4-5 as a main dish)

  • About half a large head of cabbage (large leaves are best)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 6oz of diced tomatoes (canned)
  • 2 cups quinoa (uncooked)
  • 1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup strong black olives (kalamata, aragon), pitted
Stuffing the cabbage rolls

Cabbage roll to be rolled up – Chris Ciolli

Instructions Vegetarian Quinoa Cabbage Rolls
  1. Put cabbage leaves in boiling water for about 5 minutes.
  2. Remove cabbage leaves and add quinoa. Cook for about 15 minutes.
  3. Drain quinoa.
  4. Mix in onions, garlic, tomatoes, feta and olives.
  5. Fold quinoa mix into cabbage leaves (I like to use what I call the “burrito” technique, fold top and bottom flaps in, and then the two sides over that.
  6. Pack in the cabbage rolls close to each other in an oven safe pan.
  7. Cover with foil or baking paper.
  8. Cook for 30-40 minutes at 180ºC
  9. Serve drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
col relleno de quinoa en recipiente

Quinoa Cabbage Rolls in Pan – Chris Ciolli

Extra Tips:

  • This makes a great side dish for meat eaters. Serve up a roll with a steak or chicken breast.
  • Make a vegan version with your favorite tofu or soy cheese, or subbing nuts or even extra olives for the feta.
  • Make a meat-eater’s version of this dish with bacon—it combines well with the olives and diced tomatoes.
  • This filling also works great for stuffed peppers, tomatoes, zucchini or eggplant.
  • Leftovers can be frozen for busy days but they’re best reheated in the oven.


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