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Quinoa & Lentil Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

  • author name Stephanie Swavely, RD, CSO, LDN
Quinoa & Lentil Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Cancer-fighting nutrition and loads of flavor are rolled into one in our version of plant-based stuffed cabbage.

Traditionally made with meat and rice, recipes for stuffed cabbage are as versatile as the many cultures that make it. Lentils and quinoa are substitutes and provide fiber, protein and nutrients. Lentils, which may help lower a person’s risk of developing cancer, give a “meaty” texture, while quinoa, with its anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties, provides a “fluffy” texture.

That’s one power-packed filling wrapped inside a cabbage leaf that, like any cruciferous vegetable, may help protect against cancer and other diseases.

For completely gluten-free cabbage rolls, use tamari soy sauce, which is made with no wheat, instead of regular soy sauce. Stuffed cabbage rolls can be made ahead and refrigerated until ready to bake, making them a wonderful dish to take to a friend.

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Total time:  2 hours, 30 minutes


  • 1 head green cabbage
  • Chopped parsley for garnish


  • 1-1/2 cups brown lentils
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed in sieve and drained
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, or balsamic vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons lite soy sauce (use tamari soy sauce for gluten-free)
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika (regular paprika, smoked chipotle, chili powder or similar spices can be substituted)


Combine the following in a small bowl

  • 1, 28 oz. can tomato puree or crushed tomatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon maple syrup or brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar, or balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


  1. Add 2 to 3 inches of water to a pot large enough to place the whole head of cabbage. Bring water to boil over high heat then carefully (use large serving spoons if needed) to lower cabbage into pot. Reduce heat, cover, and gently simmer cabbage for about 20 minutes. Remove from heat, place in strainer, and allow to cool.
  2. Prepare filling while cabbage is steaming:
    1. Place 3 cups water in medium saucepan and add lentils. Bring to boil, lower heat, cover, and simmer lentils until soft and water is absorbed, about 35 minutes. (If needed, add more water as lentils cook, or drain excess water, if any, when they are done.)
    2. Combine broth and quinoa in small saucepan and bring to boil over high heat. Lower heat, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
    3. Heat large skillet on medium high and add oil. Add onion and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté another minute. Add the cooked lentils and quinoa, vinegar, soy sauce and paprika. Stir to combine and remove from heat.
  3. To assemble cabbage rolls:
    1. Spread 1 cup sauce over the bottom of a 9x13 casserole dish.
    2. Peel a leaf from the cabbage head and place on cutting board. Cut a V-shaped notch to remove the thick part of the cabbage rib. Place 1/3 cup filling in center of the leaf; fold bottom of leaf over filling, then fold in the sides and roll leaf to make a wrap. Place seam side down in casserole dish.
  4. Continue peeling off leaves and assembling as in step b until all the filling is used. You should have about 12 stuffed cabbage rolls. (See *Note below)
  5. Spoon remaining sauce over the cabbage rolls, cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350℉ for 1 to 1 ½ hours, until cabbage is tender.
  6. Garnish with parsley and serve with bread stuffing or potatoes, if desired. 

*Note: Rather than steaming the whole head of cabbage, outer leaves of the raw cabbage can be peeled off and cooked separately (about 10 minutes in a pot of water). However, it is usually easier to peel off the outer leaves after the cabbage is cooked. Save remaining cabbage for other uses, such as Cole slaw, since the cabbage will not have cooked completely through, or sauté as a side dish.

Makes 12 cabbage rolls.
Recipe adapted from

Nutritional Information: 
Per cabbage roll: 147.0 calories; 4.3g total fat (1.0g saturated, 0.4g polyunsaturated, 1.7g monounsaturated); 584.9mg sodium; 3.1mg cholesterol; 24.8g carbohydrate; 5.4g fiber; 8.9g sugars; 5.8g protein; 586.2mg potassium.

author name

Stephanie Swavely, RD, CSO, LDN

Stephanie Swavely, RD, CSO, LDN, is an oncology dietitian and patient navigator at the Ann B. Barshinger Cancer Institute.

Education: A graduate of West Chester University with a B.S. in Nutrition, Swavely sits on the Board of Directors of the Central Pennsylvania Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Call: 717-544-9400

About LG Health Hub

The LG Health Hub features breaking medical news and straightforward advice to help individuals of all ages make healthy choices and reach their wellness goals. The blog puts articles by trusted Lancaster General Health clinical experts, good 'n healthy recipes, videos, patient stories, and health risk assessments at your fingertips.


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