Cabbage rolls are not something I’ve eaten a lot of, since I haven’t eaten meat since I was 8. Typically, it is a dish made with some sort of minced meat and wrapped in steamed cabbage leaves, then served with a tomato sauce.
Spinach and ricotta cannelloni, on the other hand, is a dish I’ve eaten a LOT of. Back when I was vegetarian, spinach and ricotta anything was my favourite.
So since discovering my amazing 5 minute vegan ricotta cheese recipe, I’ve getting back in touch with all my ‘old’ favourite spinach and ricotta recipes. These days I try to keep my gluten intake to a minimum, so I was experimenting with a way to make vegan spinach and ricotta cannelloni without the nasty white pasta…
And that’s how this dish was born!
If vegan cabbage rolls and vegan spinach and ricotta cannelloni were to get down and dirty, this dish would be the happy offspring… vegan spinach and ricotta cabbage rolls!
A few pointers worth noting…
You’ll need a double batch of my aforementioned vegan ricotta cheese recipe, so don’t forget to prep that first. Don’t stress, it’s a very quick and easy recipe!
If you can’t get fresh spinach, yes you can use frozen – 2 x 100g packets should do the trick. But fresh is best, and when it comes to leafy greens – organic is always important due to their tendency to retain pesticides.
Pre-boiling your head of cabbage is key! Skip this step and you’ll end up with chewy cabbage that’s hard to cut through. Yuck. This can be done in less than 10 minutes – just peel away all the loose outer leaves from your cabbage, then use a sharp knife to cut out the core. Stick it in a large pot with about 5cm of boiling water and place the lid on it to steam for 5 minutes. The leaves will come away nicely and will be the perfect consistency for wrapping your spinach and almond ricotta mixture.
To wrap your little parcels, place 1/4 cup fulls of the spinach mixture into a cabbage leaf and roll it like a little burrito. Just like this…
Then just pack ’em neatly (and tightly) into your roasting dish, like so…
What’s so great about this dish?
- Gluten free
- Loaded full of healthy greens (spinach and cabbage)
- High protein – thanks to the almonds
- Easy to make
- Tastes like REAL spinach and ricotta (Well, the spinach is 100% real, and the ricotta is made from actual real food – rather than the lactation fluid of a mother cow, so…)
- Super tasty and satisfying
Yeah. That’s what. This dish is the bomb diggity I tell ya! The vegan cheese on top is totally optional – you could skip it OR even swap it for a healthier home-made vegan cheese such as my favourite go-to basic cashew cheese (drizzled on top after it comes out of the oven, not before).
If you want to make this dish on the fly, you can also skip making the sauce from scratch and use a pre-made one. Organic and in a glass or BPA-free can is very much preferable when it comes to tomatoes. Did you know that the more acidic the food, the more BPA is leached into it? Tomatoes are up there on the acidity scale, so BPA free is especially important.
This has become one of my faves and I hope you enjoy it too. Be sure to let me know in the comments!
If vegan spinach and ricotta cannelloni were to get down and dirty with vegan cabbage rolls, this dish would be the offspring! It's SO tasty, gluten free and packed full of plant based goodness!
- 1 head fresh savvoy cabbage
- 1 head fresh spinach (or silverbeet) finely chopped
- 1 large red onion finely diced
- 3 cloves fresh garlic minced
- 2 cups vegan ricotta cheese *see notes
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cracked pepper
- 1/4 cup finely grated vegan cheese (optional)
- 700 ml organic tomato passata
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1/3 cup fresh mixed herbs finely chopped (I used basil, oregano & parsley)
- salt & pepper to taste
- teeny tiny pinch stevia powder **see note
Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F).
Remove all the loose outer leaves from the cabbage and use a sharp knife to cut out the core.
Fill a large pot with around 5cm of water and bring to the boil. Place the cabbage upright into the pot and steam for 5 minutes with the lid on.
Use some tongs to gently remove 10 of the outer leaves (plus extras in case you break any!), shaking them gently to remove excess moisture. Set aside on a plate to cool.
Place the finely chopped spinach into a vegetable steamer and steam for 5 minutes, then set aside to cool.
Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over low-medium heat, add the onion and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté a further 1 minute, then remove from heat.
In a large mixing bowl, add the vegan ricotta, nutritional yeast, two thirds of the onion/garlic mixture (leave the other third in the pan for the sauce), salt and cracked pepper.
Before going any further, get the sauce started by adding the passata, tomato paste, herbs, salt & pepper and stevia to the pan with the remaining onion and garlic, and bring to a gentle simmer for 15 minutes while you prepare the rest.
With clean hands, take handfuls of the spinach and squeeze out the excess moisture before adding to the ricotta mixture. Mix everything together well with a fork.
Place the mixture (1/4 cup at a time) into the cabbage leaves and roll like little burritos (see description with pictures in recipe intro above), placing them neatly into a 20x30cm baking dish. If needed, use extra rolled up cabbage leaves to stuff in the gaps to keep your rolls together.
Drizzle the rolls with your hot tomato sauce, top with the vegan cheese (if using) and place in the preheated oven for 15 minutes to heat through. Depending on the type of vegan cheese you are using you may wish to place it under the grill for a few minutes to melt the cheese.
*Get the recipe for my 5 minute Vegan Ricotta Cheese here! You will need a double portion to make 2 cups worth 🙂
**Stevia is a completely natural sugar-free sweetener. I love using it in modest amounts to sweeten things like curries and sauces. Just a word of warning: Be VERY careful when adding Stevia to your cooking, it's potent stuff. It has the potential to totally ruin your dish if you add too much. For this recipe, start with no more than 1/10 of a teaspoon (really!) and increase from there if needed.