Jul 21, 2010

Quinoa Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Quinoa stuffed Cabbage Rolls topped with a delicious Tomato Basil Sauce and served with a side of Roasted Root Vegetables - Am I  glad to be eating at home today! You Bet!

I found inspiration for this dish from a recipe in one of my cooking books called "Vegetarian Bible". The original recipe uses barley for stuffing. Stuffed cabbage rolls are also commonly made with a beef stuffing. I would have done that - but I just don't eat beef for only 7 days in a week. So, that was no option. I had to make something that would be tasty, healthy and ultimately delicious. And did not have barley at home. But, really wanted to make these too. Guess, what I did have at home - Quinoa. Perfect. This should work good with Quinoa. Everything works good with Quinoa. Doesn't it?!

And I just came back from my farmers market with beautiful veggies and had to use those! What better recipe to use yellow zucchini in?

And of course, the quinoa is from my favorite Trader Joes!

I cooked 2 cups of Quinoa in my rice cooker.

Add 4 cups of water for 2 cups of quinoa and set it on a regular rice cooking mode.

While the quinoa is getting cooked, let's move on to the next step. And that will be to blanch the cabbage.

Use the brightest green cabbage you can find. Unfortunately, I could not find the really green ones in my farmers market that day and hence picked the best from what I had.

Cut the stalk off from the bottom and slowly peel out the layers. Be gentle and try to peel the whole leaf. Its ok if some leaves tear. You can also double them up to make the rolls.

Heat up water in a big pot and bring to a boil. Also set a bowl with cold water and ice together on the side. We are going to shock the poor innocent cabbage! Ha Ha Ha (evil laughter)

Dunk the cabbage leaf in the almost boiling water and leave it there for a min. Not too long. You can put a few leaves at a time - not necessarily just one every time. But, make sure they have enough room to breathe and cook.

Then, remove the blanched leaf gently and dunk it immediately in cold water for another minute to stop the cooking process. This also helps in maintaining the nice green color.

Then gently lift the leaves out of the cold water and set aside so that all the excess water drains out. The cabbage leaves are now ready for the show!

The next step will be to get the filling ready. And once again I decided to make it all colorful - just the way nature intended us to eat.

I used onions, red bell peppers, yellow zucchini and green zucchini. You can use anything your heart desires..I mean veggie-wise!

In a wide pan, add about 1 tsp olive oil or any other oil you use everyday. Throw in the onions and saute till translucent.

Next, throw in the red bell peppers. Saute for a min. You don't want to overcook the veggies. Let them be a little crisp. These will be oven baked later on too and will cook again.

Then, throw in the green and yellow zucchinis. Oh how much I love color! Makes my heart sing a happy song!

Sprinkle salt to taste.

And here's the kicker - a tsp of red chilli flakes. You all know how I like to spice it up!

Add the cooked quinoa to the veggies.

Mix well and cook for a couple of mins.

As soon as you see this, you can know that I cooked this on a Tuesday - coz I just love the fresh basil available in my farmers market (open on tuesdays only). And I have to use it the same day! Nothing beats the smell and aroma of fresh basil. My whole kitchen smells good when I wash and chop the basil leaves. This is natural cooking aromatherapy...good  great for your senses!

So, get some fresh basil. Pluck just the leaves, wash well and chop finely into small bits.

Add the chopped basil to the quinoa and mix well. You just made the dish triple flavorful!

For a quick meal, you can just make this alone and don't have to worry about stuffing this into anything. Its a great meal by itself.

Here comes the fun assembly part.

Place one leaf on a working surface. Fill the center with a good amount of quinoa. Good enough so you can still roll the cabbage.

Fold the sides towards the center.

Then gently starting from the base, roll the leaf towards the tips.

Tuck in the sides tightly. I wish I can tuck in my sides too like this - tightly! LOL!

Place on a baking dish. I actually forgot and placed it in my serving dish - and then when I was done with all the rolls, I remembered that this serving dish was not oven proof. At least, it looks pretty!

Place them all in a line..it looks like a cabbage sleepover party in there!

Now, let's make a super quick topping. And also super delicious.

I had a can of stewed tomatoes and used that. You can also use fresh ripe tomatoes here. Works great!

Add in your roughly chopped tomatoes to the food processor. If you're using fresh tomatoes, about 4-5 tomatoes would be good.

Add in a handful of fresh basil. Add 2-3 cloves of garlic ( you can sure skip this if you are not a garlic person). Add salt and a little pepper to taste. Then, add about 2 tbsps of olive oil.

Give it all a good whirrr....

Move to a pan and cook at medium heat for a few mins until the raw smell of the tomatoes go away. The sauce looks brown in color because of all the basil. But, as it cooks, the red of the tomato will start showing up. You just wait.

Is it a little more red now. And it smells like heaven! And it tastes like hawaii in heaven! Really!

Now, gently spread a little sauce over the rolled cabbage. Make sure this is in a baking dish now as you will move the whole thing into the oven.

If you have a lot of sauce, you can just pour the sauce at the bottom of the pan. My sauce was perfect to cover the tops.

Then, seal the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake in a preheated oven at 375F for about 20-30 minutes or until the cabbage leaves turn tender. The bottom baking dish is my oven roasted root vegetables - recipe coming up soon in another post.

After about 30 mins of being hungry and salivating...open up the foil to reveal the fruit of all your efforts. Or rather, the cabbage rolls of all your efforts! Don't they look hot? I mean..as in sexy hot?

The whole roll uses 1 tsp of oil. Can you believe that? And a whole load of protein and fiber because of the quinoa. And of course, the goodness of the veggies! Even though the whole batch of sauce has 2 tbsps of oil, you'll probably eat about 1 tsps in your serving. Still - a really good healthy meal. And filling too! But, will still keep you lite and you will not feel like a hippo after eating this (trust me, I've been there many times)

I served these with a side of roasted root vegetables. And sometimes I like to take things literally, so actually served these with a side of roasted vegetable!

Give your family a plate of this healthy deliciousness - they're sure to love it. They will surely notice the deliciousness part but won't even realize that its' also super healthy for them!

Enjoy. Peace Out!


  1. Now you know what I'll do... he he he (evil laughter). Of course incorporate a little bit of chicken into this yummy recipe to make my carnivorous hubby eat the Qinoa ha ha ha (more evil laughter)

  2. dear, that is simply superb and I am definitely trying it out. Tempting and a beautiful presentation :)

  3. Woah, talk about healthy! Nice one :)

  4. I enjoy your posts so much. Love the presentation. You are opening new doors for me.

  5. its amazing dish ...looks awesome ...no words to describe what i feel ..its simply out of the world ...bookmarked


  6. ha ha stuffed cabbage roll was one in my to do list, but my version is totally different ... this is interesting too..looks so so so delicious. Stuffing quinoa and tomato sauce on the top OMg its really making me drool... yummY!!!

  7. You guys had a gourmet dinner last night huh!! Delish! These look like the lettuce wraps from PF Changs :)

  8. hey Anu, Am sure your fridge door has some cute things up :) (After seeing your cute kitchenwares at MMKT) Do send me a picture for the event in my blog :)

  9. That looks so delicious, very well explained too.
    You have a nice collection of vegetarian recipes.

  10. Superb...Extremely healthy...just loved your creation...2 thumbs up..worth of an effort..

  11. Delish!.. this is soo good.. I have tried quinoa stuffed zucchini and lentil stuffed cabbage rools.. now I can try your version..

  12. Delicious and colourful. Well explained as ever

  13. Tempting cabbage rolls..Very very tempting Anu..
    Kairali sisters

  14. Hi da,

    I know for a fact that many people dont eat cabbage...this is a nice way to include cabbage in ur daily menu....so rich in anti-oxidants and so good for health. Stuffed with more goodness and topped with even more fragrant goodness...it just keeps coming on!!!


  15. wow..Those rolls look just tempting dear....looks so so good...

  16. Those rolls look super delicious dear..sounds very yummy

  17. A gourmet spread here Anu!! I would be glad to have dinner at your place too:-))

  18. this is brilliant! i am yet to experiment with quinoa :)

  19. Such a beautiful dish, makes me hungry...cant take my eyes from the clicks...very tempting!

  20. Picture makes me drool and literally mouth watering .. I now have to find a substitue for quinoa and barley..:) ... love it ..

    I am eagerly waiting for your roasted root veggie recipe ...cmon make it fast

  21. ooooh la la....my cabbage hater hubby wud luv these kinda rolls!!

  22. Excellent presentation as always!

  23. Looks so much of work...but looks very nice and interesting recipe..will try sometime

  24. Awesome! Love it! Keep up the wholegrain / veggie theme..

  25. lovely recipe..your pictures make the recipe look so easy..yumm


  27. ROFL on the tucking the sides bit (when it comes to us that is)...wish I could do it too! Let me now if you find a way, I'll be there pronto to learn from you and tuck away too...lol :)
    I love the way the cabbages are so tenderly cooked and look at those veins (not in a gory way), but they look so cheruby. I so heart those rolls. Tuck away woman, tuck away! :P

  28. Good job with the clear and fun presentation, great visuals and information. Not sure when I am going to try it out though..... Guess it all starts with the trip to the market! Keep up your good work.


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