Vegetarian Quinoa Cabbage Rolls For 5: Get Out Those Chopsticks

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col relleno de quinoa - Chris Ciolli

When I want to see my friend Carmen, it never fails, I can lure her in with stuffed cabbage. Any variation on cabbage rolls, and she comes knocking at my front door. Since I was recently gifted with a homegrown head of cabbage, fruit of my father-in-law’s gardening habits, and I hadn’t seen Carmen in quite some time, I figured, why not?

Some people have one cabbage roll recipe and that’s what they make when they crave cabbage rolls (yes, some of us do “crave” cabbage) or have an excess of cabbage. Me, I’m a fan of variety, and not rushing to the supermarket because I don’t have this or that ingredient. So while most often my cabbage rolls include some kind of meat (usually ground beef or pork, or chunks of bacon) this weekend I went with a vegetarian version. And since I was running low on rice, I made them with quinoa, instead.

Ingredients Vegetarian Quinoa Cabbage Rolls (serves 4-5 as a main dish)

  • About half a large head of cabbage (large leaves are best)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 6oz of diced tomatoes (canned)
  • 2 cups quinoa (uncooked)
  • 1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup strong black olives (kalamata, aragon), pitted

Stuffing the cabbage rolls

Instructions Vegetarian Quinoa Cabbage Rolls
  1. Put cabbage leaves in boiling water for about 5 minutes.
  2. Remove cabbage leaves and add quinoa. Cook for about 15 minutes.
  3. Drain quinoa.
  4. Mix in onions, garlic, tomatoes, feta and olives.
  5. Fold quinoa mix into cabbage leaves (I like to use what I call the “burrito” technique, fold top and bottom flaps in, and then the two sides over that.
  6. Pack in the cabbage rolls close to each other in an oven safe pan.
  7. Cover with foil or baking paper.
  8. Cook for 30-40 minutes at 180ºC
  9. Serve drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

col relleno de quinoa en recipiente

Extra Tips:

  • This makes a great side dish for meat eaters. Serve up a roll with a steak or chicken breast.
  • Make a vegan version with your favorite tofu or soy cheese, or subbing nuts or even extra olives for the feta.
  • Make a meat-eater’s version of this dish with bacon—it combines well with the olives and diced tomatoes.
  • This filling also works great for stuffed peppers, tomatoes, zucchini or eggplant.
  • Leftovers can be frozen for busy days but they’re best reheated in the oven.

Chris Ciolli
Chris Ciolli is a Barcelona-based writer, translator and artist with Midwestern roots. She shares her escapades as a Missourian in the world at Midwesternerabroad.com, and writes about Barcelona from a guiri-gone-native perspective at Barcelonaforidiots.com. A closet foodie and self-proclaimed art addict, Chris typically blogs about the drinks, eats and other cultural attractions she encounters on her travels. In her spare moments, she reads obsessively, slurps excessive quantities of coffee and tea, and plays with art supplies and kitchen tools. Oh, and travels as much as humanly possible.
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