Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Lemony Cream Sauce

We often had stuffed cabbage as a main dish in our house when I was a child. Like almost all stuffed cabbage recipes, it was filled with white rice and ground beef and cooked with tomato sauce. This is my take on stuffed cabbage. It's vegan, of course. And it's a little different. Well, a lot different!

Instead of tomato sauce I cook the rolls in a scrumptious, lemony "cream" sauce. And instead of meat, they're chock full of healthful mushrooms and nourishing beans, along with other nutrient-dense ingredients. These cabbage rolls are a refreshing change of pace. If you've never made stuffed cabbage, I can tell you that it takes a bit of time to put together. Prepare it on a day off when you have time to putter around the kitchen. I hope you'll try this dish and let me know what you think!

  • 1 large head green cabbage (you can also use napa cabbage if you prefer)
  • 1 pound diced portobello mushrooms (baby portobello are fine. I recommend portobellos because they stay firm and don't leak a lot of water when cooked)
  • 1 can small red beans (I used adzuki), drained
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 1 large, sweet yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup cooked barley
  • 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 3-4 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1/2 cup dried currants (or raisins, finely chopped)
  • 1 tsp dill weed
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 TBS paprika
  • 2 TBS Salt-free Spike or other low sodium spice blend
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 TBS Bragg's Liquid Aminos
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 cup almond butter + 1/4 cup water
  • a few sprigs of fresh dill for garnish

  1. Core the cabbage head and place it, core-side down, in a steamer.
  2. Steam until the outer leaves are soft and pull away easily (usually about 20 minutes).
  3. Remove the cabbage from the pot and set aside to cool.
  4. Meanwhile, water-sauté the onion with the fennel seeds in a large sauté pan until tender. See my notes about water-sautéing in my Moroccan Peanut Stew recipe. It's very important to add water as needed when water-sautéing to avoid sticking and burning. It evaporates quickly!
  5. Add the garlic, celery, mushrooms, sunflower seeds, remaining spices, vinegar, liquid aminos, barley and currants and cook until the mushrooms are soft. Add more water if needed to prevent sticking.
  6. Thin the almond butter with the water and add to the pan, stirring to combine. Turn the heat off and set aside. The mixture should be moist but not too wet. Add a little water if it seems to dry.
  7. Make the Lemony Cream Sauce (see recipe below).
  8. Grease a deep dish casserole or baking pan.
  9. Pull off about 10 outer leaves of the cabbage. Dry with a paper towel. You want 8 leaves for stuffing but I always take more than I need in case one rips.
  10. Chop 1/2 of the remaining cabbage into bite sized pieces and place in a bowl. Cover with 1/2 of the lemon sauce and stir to combine (save the other half of the remaining cabbage for another dish).
  11. Spread the chopped cabbage/lemon sauce onto the bottom of the prepared pan.
  12. Gently slice off the thick stems on the outsides of each cabbage leaf, being careful not to slice through to the other side. 
  13. Stuff each cabbage leaf with your mushroom mixture, placing about a half of a cup at the base of the inside of the leaf and rolling it up, tucking the sides in as you roll (see instructional photos below).
  14. Place the rolls into the baking pan, seam side down, on top of the chopped cabbage and sauce mixture.
  15. Pour the remaining lemon sauce over the rolls.
  16. COVER and bake for about 30 minutes, until the cabbage is all fork tender and everything is heated through. I try to get everything in the oven while the cabbage and stuffing are still warm so that it doesn't take that long to heat through. Otherwise your lemon sauce can get too thick.
  17. Serve the cabbage rolls on top of the chopped cabbage.
  18. Garnish with dill.

remove the outer thick stem
add the stuffing
tuck both ends as you wrap
the finished roll, seam side down
ready to go into the oven!

   for the lemony cream sauce ~

  • 2 cups raw cashews
  • 2 cups water
  • juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tsp yellow mustard
  • generous pinch of turmeric

  • Place the cashews in a high powdered blender and add just enough water to cover. 
  • Blend until smooth. Add the rest of the water and remaining ingredients and blend again until smooth.
  • The sauce may seem thin to you. That's okay. As it bakes with the cabbage rolls it will thicken quite a bit because of the cashews.

Serves 4. Enjoy!

Healthy trails,

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