Quinoa Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Gluten free stuffed cabbage with quinoa and sweet potato stuffing
Quinoa stuffed cabbage. How's that for nontraditional?

It was a dark and stormy night... 

Wait. This is a recipe post. Let me start again. Got your cocoa? Are you settled?

Chapter 1.

The tight blue tiled kitchen glowed in the afternoon sun that slatted through the western facing junipers and spilled across the cupboards in a honeyed glaze so dazzling she had to lower her eyes to keep from squinting like a cowboy as she grabbed a frayed dish towel and cracked the oven door. The scent of sweet potatoes, apples and onion laced with garlic, nutmeg and cinnamon filled the room. She tugged her worn wooden spoon from the mustard crock and stirred the tender jewels bathed in apple juice. For the first time in days she felt connected to something tangible.

Chapter 32.

How does a person know this? To peel a cooked cabbage leaf so gently and not tear it. To spoon a spiced and savory filling into its center, wrap and roll it, snugging it into the curve of a empty dish. A row of translucent bundles. Plump. Expectant. Longing for sauce. Which Sophie, Irina or Josefa first boiled a cabbage and thought to stuff a single leaf? What brilliance is this, what simple wisdom born of practicality - or whim? Is memory in the head or in the heart?

Perhaps it lingers in the hands.

Chapter 13 1/2.

When the outside world turns on its axis and flirts with the taste of hate and the ancient flame of violence is paraded as remedy, when the color of your skin or your eyes or your state divides you from your neighbor and you tread in the quicksand of suspicion and anger- let go, Brother. Just breathe, Sister.

Trust the faith you so fervently stoke. If your faith is true and clear will it fail you? Or  the harder, deeper question is, will it blind you?

Listen as a child, aware of the bigness, the intricate complexity that weaves a reality not always aligned to your expectations. Loosen your grip on your assumptions.  Think about the stars and how your very atoms are stuff of the universe.

Beware of darkness. Choose hope.

Stuff a cabbage leaf.

Gluten free stuffed cabbage with quinoa and sweet potato stuffing
Stuffed cabbage waiting for sauce.

Quinoa Stuffed Cabbage Recipe with Roasted Sweet Potato

Traditional stuffed cabbage recipes often feature rice and crumbled beef,  but I decided to change things up and create a stuffing with caramelized roasted flavors instead. 

Note: I've added sweet sausage to this filling, but you easily keep it vegan. Just omit the sausage and serve with a side of hummus.

Originally posted October 2008.


1 large cabbage
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled, diced
1 red onion, peeled, diced
1 large tart apple, such as Granny Smith, peeled, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
4 sausages- these can be sweet Italian, chicken apple, turkey, buffalo, cut into chunks
Extra virgin olive oil, as needed
1 cup natural apple juice or cider
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon balsamic or apple cider vinegar
Sprinkle of sea salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, fennel
A handful of raisins or dried cranberries
1 to 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa

For the sauce:

1 24-oz jar or can of strained tomatoes- I use Bionature Organic Strained Tomatoes
1/2 cup apple juice or cider
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Sea salt, to taste


First: Cook your cabbage. You'll need a fresh, large head of green cabbage. Trim the bottom root and cut an X into the center core. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the head of cabbage for about five minutes until soft; remove and drain well.

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.

Make the filling. Throw the vegetables, apple, and sausage into a roasting pan and drizzle with a little olive oil. Add the apple juice, maple syrup, vinegar, salt and spices and toss well to coat. Roast in the oven till soft- about 40 to 50 minutes. Stir a few times during roasting to distribute the sauce and seasoning. Meanwhile make your sauce.

Make the sauce. Combine the sauce ingredients in a sauce pan and stir. Cook over medium heat until simmering. Cover and lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Taste test before using in the recipe. If you like a bit of spice, add a dash of hot pepper- but please taste test first.

To assemble:

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Lightly oil four serving dishes or one medium-large baking dish.

When the cabbage has cooled enough for you to handle, cut another 1/2 inch or so off the bottom core if you need to and gently peel off the leaves one at a time; set the leaves aside on a plate or board. Trim any large leaves that may have a thick spine. Smaller leaves can be combined- use two to make one roll if you need to.

Close up of quinoa stuffing
Quinoa stuffing with sweet potatoes.

Combine the roasted vegetables and sausage with the cooked quinoa- start with a cup and see how much you need. If you want to stretch the filling, use more quinoa. Add a handful of raisins and stir in.

To stuff:

Lay a cabbage leaf on your work surface and add a spoonful of filling in the center. Fold in the side of the leaf and roll it up; tuck it into the prepared baking dish seam side down. Repeat for the remaining leaves and filling.

Pour the sauce over the stuffed cabbage and bake in the center of a preheated oven for about 30 minutes, till heated through and bubbling.

You can make this stuffed cabbage ahead of time, if you wish; cover and chill. Add an extra 10 minutes or so to the baking time.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

 photo Print-Recipe.png

Recipe Source: glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com

All images & content are copyright protected, all rights reserved. Please do not use our images or content without prior permission. Thank you. 


Kelly said...

Entertaining and yet thought provoking. I love how you paint with words!

Anonymous said...

Now I have to get some quinoa. I already love sweets and cabbage. - Margaret

Anonymous said...

We are all responsible for our change no one else.

I really enjoyed your description of stuffed cabbage.

~M said...

Beautiful - this looks amazing to my ashkenazic self! And the filling would make a great faux stuffing for Thanksgiving. YUM!

Kalyn said...

Great sounding recipe, and I'll definitely be voting for change!

imritzy1 said...

Aside from the magnificent food, I really like your style. Rock on Goddess.

Karen said...

Yum! Can't wait to try it.

Sophie said...

Beautiful post. Though I'm not as cool as the character, it's cool to see my name in your entry lol. I was staring at the bag of quinoa I have in the pantry just yesterday; I've yet to use it... I've been too scared! But I'm oh so tired of rice :P. This really looks incredible, I like the idea of quinoa with tasty sweet potatoes over a beef filling. I'm making these this weekend. I'm already hungry again and I just ate :).

Shannon said...

Looks great...just the type of dish I love! What are strained tomatoes similiar to? Tomato sauce? Pureed whole tomatoes?


Lara said...

You make me cry. You make me laugh. Most of all you make me hungry.

Sandra said...

Looks fantastic! I had read somewhere that you could place the cabbage in the freezer for a period of time which would wilt the leaves versus boiling the head. Have you ever tried that? I have considered it and may very well do so after seeing how delicious your filling looks!!

Karina Allrich said...

Kelly- Thank you for your kindness. ;)

Margaret- Hope you like the combo- it's a tasty change from beef and rice stuffing.

Anon- Thanks!

~M- Yes- the flavors are so Ashkenazi. And it would be a beautiful stuffing for Thanksgiving.

Kalyn- Thanks, and change is what we need. xox

Imritzy1- Thank you- and keep rockin' yourself. :)

Karen- Hope you enjoy is as much as we did!

Sophie- Beautiful name! ;) And thank you. I'm eating less rice these days.

Shannon- Strained tomatoes are akin to pureed tomatoes- but smoother and slightly more dense. No salt or anything added, like in a sauce. You could use puree- or sauce- and adjust seasoning to taste. You'd want it to be smooth for best results.

Lara- Laugh, cry, hungry--- it's all good! ;) Thank you.

Sandra- Really? I've never tried it. Let me know if you do (would it make it mushy?).


Anonymous said...

Hi Karina,
I just tried this wonderful recipe,
fantastic, I used Kasha ( cooked buckwheat - a little leftover) instead, that went very well. Next time I'll try with Quinoa, which I'm also fond of.
Thank you so much for all the great cooking creations you share!!
says "gluten-free from oversea"

Karina Allrich said...

Gluten-free From Oversea- Excellent! I'm so glad kasha worked. I'm a fan of buckwheat kasha, too. Great idea for this recipe. Thank you for sharing!


Phoenix said...

This sound delicious! I wonder though, do you think another pureed vegetable could stand in for tomato in this sauce, and if so, what veggie would you suggest?

I'm a nursing mom to a baby with a huge list of food allergies so its hard to find recipes to fit my diet (especially yummy ones!) and the only thing I can't have in this one is the tomato! I'm willing to play around with it a bit but I'm wondering if you had any suggestions (since you've tasted it ;) )

Karina Allrich said...

Phoenix- Sorry to hear about the multiple allergies- I feel your pain!

Okay. I'm thinking- can you do a mild roasted green chile sauce? Or how about a pumpkin based sauce- use a little canned pumpkin, thin with broth, add a little garlic, a few warm spices- like nutmeg or curry. Or even just a straight broth- very simple with a little white wine?


Karina Allrich said...

Phoenix- Have you seen the idea of using pureed carrots to make a non-tomato tomato-like sauce? That might also work.


Phoenix said...

I just wanted to let you know I made it tonight for a Thanksgiving meal and used a 15oz can of pureed butternut squash and a little broth in place of the can of tomatoes (following the rest of the sauce recipe as well) and it was SO good!! I haven't had it with the tomato obviously, but I seriously suggest trying it with a squash sauce, it complimented the roasted filling perfectly.
Everyone loved it and it was the perfect centerpiece for a vegan/gluten-free thanksgiving!!

pwarias said...

This looks so tasty... any ideas about what to do with the leftover cabbage? I was going to make less servings (just for 2) and I don't want the leftover cabbage to go to waste...

Karina Allrich said...

Phoenix- How glad am I that the squash sauce worked? Fabulous. I may have to do a post about alternative sauces. Thanks for returning to share what you did.

Pwarias- So how many cabbage leaves will you need? Six? I might suggest slicing the core off so that you can remove six leaves. Steam the six leaves and follow the recipe (cutting back on the filling as well).

With the remaining cabbage, slice thinly and make a coleslaw or use in soup or stir-fry with other veggies. I have a tasty recipe for a mayo-free coleslaw posted.


DebZ said...

the recipe calls for green cabbage. would red cabbage work too?

Karina Allrich said...

DebZ- I don't see why not. Green is traditional, but if you like red/purple cabbage, why not?


Susan Roberts said...

I made this dish last night! It is out of this world!!

Sean said...

Made this last night. Well, sorta. Turns out I was out of quinoa (how that's possible is still beyond me) so I subbed in Israeli couscous, which of course made it not gluten-free. Still tasty, though, if you can tolerate gluten. Still have plenty of filling left over. What shall I stuff next?

Karina Allrich said...

Roasted acorn squash? Or serve as a side dish with broiled salmon- or lemon-roasted chicken. xox

Anonymous said...

This recipe is simply amazing! My fussy teenager daughter loved it (and also hubby who is used to his mom's traditional recipe!). So happy for your website as I am celiac and there is not much out there to help us out regarding gourmet recipes.

Dan said...

Didn't have tomatoes in the pantry... (and didn't see the comment above w/ the squash puree as substitute. Probably try that next!) DID have black beans, so I made an Asian-influenced black bean sauce, w/ garlic, ginger, soy sauce, dried chiles, orange rind... made a fantastic salty-spicy contrast to the sweetness of the filling. Really fun dish to make, and beautiful on a plate as well. So healthy too -- I feel like I'm gonna wake up tomorrow two inches taller w/ perfect eyesight or something. Thanks for a great recipe!

Gluten-Free Goddess eBook on iTunes