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Stuffed Cabbage Leaves with a Fried Garlic and Pine Nut Sauce

These cabbage leaves make a substantial Christmas starter or would be great as a Boxing day main served with left overs.

Stuffed Cabbage Leaves with a Fried Garlic and Pine Nut Sauce

Dietary: Vegan, Gluten-free

Prep Time: 1 hour 40 minutes | Cook Time: 20-30 minutes

Serves 6-8


  • 6-8 large dark green Savoy cabbage outer leaves
  • 6-8 large red cabbage outer leaves

Cabbage Filling

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5 sprigs of thyme, destalked, leaves chopped
  • 10 sage leaves, chopped
  • 150g shitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 100g red or brown rice
  • 200ml red wine
  • 600ml vegetable stock
  • 100g white basmati rice
  • 50g hazelnuts, roasted, skinned, roughly chopped
  • 50g pinenuts, roasted, roughly chopped
  • 10 pitted black olives, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley leaves
  • 2 tbsp chopped basil leaves
  • A grate of nutmeg
  • Juice and zest of half a lemon
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil for brushing the stuffed cabbage rolls


To make the filling

  1. In a large saucepan, fry the diced onion with ¼ teaspoon of salt in 1 tablespoon of olive oil for 10 minutes until soft and translucent.
  2. Add the bay leaves, chopped thyme and chopped sage, continue frying and then add the sliced mushrooms. Fry for a few minutes until the mushrooms release their juices, then add the red or brown rice.
  3. Stir to coat the rice, then add the red wine and simmer for a few minutes until it has been absorbed.
  4. Pour in 300ml of vegetable stock and simmer for 20 minutes with a lid on, until the rice has absorbed the stock, then add the white basmati rice and the rest of the vegetable stock and simmer with a lid on for another 20 minutes or until the stock has been absorbed. Check the rice is cooked, adding a splash of water and continuing simmering gently until it is. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly, and remove the bay leaves.
  5. Stir the chopped hazelnuts and pinenuts into the rice mixture along with the chopped olives, chopped parsley and basil, a grate of nutmeg, lemon juice and zest. Add salt and pepper to taste.

To make up the cabbage rolls

  1. Preheat oven to 180C Fan.
  2. Boil the large green outer leaves of the cabbage for 2-3 minutes, refresh by running them under cold water, drain and leave to one side.
  3. Boil the large red cabbage leaves for 5-6 minutes until soft, refresh by running them under cold water, drain and leave to one side.
  4. Trim out the central hard stem of each cabbage leaf, bring the cut edges together to slightly overlap.
  5. Place 2-3 tablespoons of rice mixture into the middle of each cabbage leaf and roll up.
  6. Place them into two ceramic baking dishes, the green cabbage rolls in one and the red cabbage rolls in the other.
  7. Brush a little olive oil over the tops of the cabbage rolls and bake in the preheated oven for 20-30 minutes. The green cabbage normally takes less time, check after 20 minutes so the leaves don’t go brown. The red cabbage benefits from slightly longer cooking.
  8. When the cabbage rolls are cooked through, spoon over the fried garlic and pinenut sauce and serve straight away.


The cabbage rolls can be made 1 day in advance and kept in the fridge and then baked off when ready to serve.

Do not freeze and do not reheat after they have been baked.

Fried Garlic and Pine Nut Sauce


  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • 4 tbsp pinenuts
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • ½ lemon zest


  1. Fry the sliced garlic and pinenuts in the olive oil for a few minutes until the garlic and pinenuts are just starting to colour around edges.
  2. Remove from the heat and decant into a bowl, stir in the chopped parsley and lemon zest. Pour the sauce over the hot cabbage rolls.

Delicious food photography by Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures.

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