Filled, rolled & baked savoy cabbage leaves…

The word resolution should forever be banned in my opinion because firstly I would fail within 24 hours of setting any and secondly, I would hate myself for making said resolution/s and for knowingly breaking them. That said I really do like a challenge over a short space of time. Over the period of lent I always give up chocolate and crisps until Easter Sunday, not for any religious reason but purely to control my intake of treats as I am a crisp monster.

However, lent is some way off at the minute and my eldest daughter Natalia asked if I fancied going veggie for January, I was thankful she didn’t say vegan as that would be an impossible ask? She was a pescatarian and wanted to see if being a vegetarian was something she could style out over January and possibly long-term and beyond. I said yes.

I am almost a week in and am really enjoying my cooking challenges. The only battle I currently have is we are a family of six with four meat eaters, so I have double to prepare and cook. So, with a positive attitude and a challenge on the go I wanted to share with you my filled cabbage rolls.

Filled savoy cabbage rolls

A dish that may look a little time consuming to put together but is honestly relatively speedy and reassuringly scrumptious. Well worth the effort. I prefer to double the mixture and double up on the recipe as these wonderful rolls freeze really well too.  The Savoy cabbage offers a wonderful almost prehistoric scale like texture and they are in season from November through to mid spring.

Serves: 4

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 1 hour


10-12 savoy cabbage leaves

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 shallot, peeled, finely chopped

1 stick celery, finely chopped

1 carrot, peeled, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, peeled finely chopped

125g rice

125g lentils

300ml stock – vegetable

4 tbsp. parsley, chopped

Pinch chilli optional

½ tsp marjoram – dried

Salt & pepper, to season


Tomato sauce

3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 shallot, peeled, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, peeled, crushed

1 x 680g jar pasatta

Salt & pepper, to season

Fresh basil, to finish


Topping (Optional)

50g stale breadcrumbs

50g Parmigiano, grated

1 tsp. oregano


  1. Wash and prepare the savoy cabbage leaves by simply removing the bitter central stem carefully, trying to retain the leaf as a whole.
  2. Boil the leaves in lightly salted water for 5 minutes.
  3. After 5 minutes drain the leaves and plunge them in to cold water for 30 seconds. Drain and place the leaves on kitchen paper to remove excess water.
  4. Boil the rice in salted water until tender.
  5. Cook the lentils until tender in the vegetable stock.
  6. Fry the shallots, celery and carrot off in the olive oil. Gently soften the vegetables for 5 minutes then add the garlic and stir.
  7. Drain the rice and lentil. Mix them together and set side until required.
  8. Add the soffritto mixture to the cooked lentils and rice, stir. Season add the chopped parsley, chilli and marjoram.
  9. Prepare the simple tomato sauce. Add the oil to a pan, along with the shallot and garlic. Stir and cook for approx. 5 minutes.
  10. Pour in the pasatta and season with salt and pepper. Add the marjoram or oregano and stir. Cook for 20 minutes.
  11. Taste and season the tomato sauce and add fresh basil.
  12. Add a tbsp. of the vegetable mixture into the centre of a cabbage leaf, fold the base and the top inwards and roll. Secure with a cocktail stick.
  13. Spoon a ladle of the tomato sauce into your dish as a base. Place the filled cabbage leaves into an oven proof dish. Use all of the mixture and leaves. Spooning over a little of the tomato sauce.
  14. Mix together the topping ingredients, breadcrumbs, Parmigiano, oregano and sprinkle over the cabbage rolls.
  15. Bake for 25 – 20 minutes.

Carmela’s tip: You could also use cavolo nero instead of savoy cabbage however the leaves would need cooking for an additional 10 minutes as they are much firmer in texture.