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Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

Cabbage Rolls in Tomato Sauce Print

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

  • Author: Mary Leir
  • Prep Time: 30
  • Cook Time: 40
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x



Tomato Sauce

  • 5 lbs fresh roma or san marzano tomatoes OR 2 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
  • pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 12 ounces light beer, such as lager or pale ale
  • 4 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons marmite or vegemite
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons vegan butter


  • 1/2 head of cabbage, outer layer of leaves and core removed, 7 cups when sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 11/2 cups chopped fresh mushrooms
  • 2 cups cooked white rice
  • 4 tablespoons almond meal
  • 4 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 vegan egg (1 tablespoon flaxseed meal mixed with 2.5 tablespoons water)
  • 1 cup dried bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Vegan sour cream or plain almond milk or cashew yogurt (for serving)


Tomato Sauce

  1. If using fresh tomatoes, roughly chop. Heat 2-4 tablespoons olive oil in a large heavy bottom pan over medium heat. Add chopped tomatoes and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a blender and blend until smooth. Wipe out pan with paper towel.
  2. Pulse garlic in a food processor until finely chopped. Add onion and celery. Pulse until onion is finely chopped.
  3. Heat 2-4 tablespoons olive oil in a large heavy bottom pan over medium heat. Add onion mixture and cook, stirring often, until onion is translucent and starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Add red pepper and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  4. Stir in blended fresh tomatoes or canned crushed tomatoes, beer, nutritional yeast, vinegar, liquid smoke, paprika, tomato paste, marmite (or vegemite), and soy sauce. Season generously with salt and black pepper. Reduce heat, bring to a simmer, and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened slightly and flavors have melded, 20–25 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in vegan butter until melted.

UnFilling and Assembly

  1. Oil a 9×13 casserole dish. Preheat oven to 425˚F.
  2. Slice cabbage into 1/4″ thin slices. Transfer to a heat proof bowl or pot, cover with boiling water and let sit 10 minutes to soften. Drain and squeeze out excess water with your hands.
  3. Pulse garlic in food processor until chopped. Add onion, celery, and parsley and pulse until finely chopped. In large nonstick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion celery mixture and cook, stirring often, until softened, 2-3 minutes.
  4. In food processor, pulse mushrooms in batches until finely chopped. Add mushrooms to pan with onions and cook, stirring, until tender and most of the liquid has evaporated, 3-5 minutes.
  5. Pulse cooled cabbage in food processor to get a consistent, but chunky texture (don’t pulse too fine).
  6. Transfer to a large bowl. Add cooked rice and cooked mushroom mixture. Stir to mix. Add almond meal, nutritional yeast, flax egg, breadcrumbs, parsley, Worcestershire, and paprika. Taste and season generously with salt and black pepper. Mix gently with clean hands until incorporated.
  7. Form into potato-shaped patties with your hands, each with about 1/2 cup of the mixture.
  8. Ladle half of remaining tomato sauce into a prepared baking dish, spreading into an even layer.
  9. In clean large nonstick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat. Add half the patties and cook until browned on each side, about 2 minutes per side. Turn patties into prepared baking dish with sauce. Repeat with remaining patties.
  10. Top patties with remaining sauce. Season with black pepper. Bake until bubbly, 40 minutes to an hour. Let cool slightly.
  11. Divide among plates spooning sauce from pan on top of patties. Top with sour cream or yogurt and serve.


Sauce can be made 2 days ahead; cover and chill. Cabbage “rolls” can be baked 1 day ahead. Let cool, cover, and chill, or freeze up to 1 month. Reheat in a 350° oven until warm, 25–30 minutes.

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