Greek Meatless Stuffed Cabbage Rolls With Rice

Stuffed Cabbages
© Sergey Kashkin / Getty Images
  • 40 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins,
  • Cook: 20 mins
  • Yield: 8 to 10 rolls (10 servings)
Ratings (10)

These Greek stuffed cabbage rolls without meat are called lahanodolmathes orphana (in Greek: λαχανοντολμάδες ορφανά, pronounced lah-hah-no-dol-MAH-thes or-fah-NAH). The word "orphana" means "orphaned," and in Greek cooking refers to a dish that can be made with meat—this recipe, however, is made without meat.

Cabbage is a favorite winter food, and this meatless recipe is delightful and a Lenten favorite. These cabbage rolls are delicious as a main dish but can be made using small pieces of the cabbage leaf to create small rolls that are perfect as a side dish, addition to a buffet table, or appetizer. Try them also using ​chard leaves and Romaine lettuce leaves.

What You'll Need

  • For the Stuffing:
  • 1 large onion (finely chopped)
  • 2 cups rice (preferably long grain)
  • 3 medium ripe tomatoes (finely chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill (finely chopped)
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley (finely chopped)
  • 2/3 cup zucchini (or Italian squash, finely chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • For the Rolls:
  • 30 cabbage leaves (or chard or Romaine)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • About 1 cup of water
  • 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
  • The juice of 1 lemon (about 1/4 cup)

How to Make It

Make the Stuffing

  1. Combine onion, rice, tomatoes, dill, parsley, zucchini, salt, pepper, cumin, and 2/3 cup olive oil in a bowl. Mix well.

Prepare Cabbage Leaves

  1. Remove the core of the cabbage and discard. Stick a large fork into the center of the cabbage head.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and immerse the cabbage, leaving the fork in.
  3. When the outer leaves turn bright green, remove the cabbage using the fork; detach softened leaves and set aside.
  1. Return cabbage head to the pot and repeat process until all cabbage leaves have been removed.
  2. If using other types of leaves, blanch leaves in hot water until they soften and turn darker green. Remove thick stems if necessary. To use very large chard leaves, cut in half and fill each half.

Prepare Rolls

  1. If making large cabbage rolls, use the whole leaf (or half of very large leaves). If making small rolls, tear leaves into 4 parts (for smaller leaves, tear into fewer pieces).
  2. For large rolls, place a heaping tablespoon of filling 1 inch from the thick end of the cabbage leaf. Fold the bottom over the filling, fold the sides in, and roll up.
  3. For small rolls, place 1 teaspoon of filling on one side of the leaf part, fold the leaf up over the filling, fold in sides, and roll up. Don't roll too tightly. The rice will need some room to expand during cooking.
  4. Line the bottom of a large pot with any torn or unused leaves (and trimmed thick stems) and drizzle with the 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  5. Place rolls closely together, seam-side down in the pot in 2 to 3 layers, as needed.
  6. Cover with a plate that fits over the rolls, turned upside down.
  7. Place the pot over medium heat and bring to a full boil (it will boil with its own liquid).
  8. Add 1 cup of water (or enough to cover the rolls); when it resumes a full boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, long enough for the rice to cook.
  9. Test to make sure rice is fully cooked. Remove the plate.
  10. In a small bowl, stir the flour into the lemon juice until dissolved. Add several tablespoons of liquid from the pot and stir to combine.
  1. Pour lemon juice mixture into the pot and shake the pot gently to distribute. Let sit 10 to 20 minutes before serving.
  2. Serve warm or at room temperature.