February 12, 2021

Cabbage Rolls (Vegan version)

Cabbage Rolls is a dish famous for its meat filling, but what about a more light version that follow the philosophy of macrobiotic?


While digging through Yo’s books, I recently came across a true work of art. A cookbook entirely dedicated to macrobiotic cooking.

You know that lately, I’m getting into this type of diet, and I admit that since I started it, I feel better.

I make a more careful selection about what I eat, the ingredients I use, I know the benefits it generates in my body and everything just makes me happy.

Well, Yo’s book, purchased when he worked in the kitchen as a cook, came at the right time.

With recipes inspired by Michio Kushi, pioneers of this cuisine, this cookbook shows “macrobiotic” alternatives to the daily dishes that usually give life to our table.

Starting with pasta, soups, simple salads to desserts, and drinks.

(Macrobiotic does not mean vegan cuisine, but still promotes a high consumption of legumes, tempeh and tofu also used to replace ingredients of animal origin).

Among the recipes that have impressed me the most, I want to show you one that I am sure will interest some of you, that are more oriented towards vegetarian/vegan cuisine.

Vegan cabbage rolls

Unlike the popular Japanese cabbage rolls filled with minced meat and vegetables, these are filled with millet, a grain that in my opinion is super underrated. It’s rich in minerals (such as copper, manganese, phosphorus, and magnesium), is light, super easy to prepare, and delicious. I started using it in the Obento as an alternative to rice sometimes and I LOVE it.

In this recipe, along with millet, the filling includes vegetables previously cooked and simply seasoned with salt and pepper, all wrapped in cabbage leaves and baked in the oven.

I slightly modified the recipe to bring it closer to my tastes (I added some marinara sauce to make it a bit more Italian style) and the result was pleasantly appreciated even by my husband, who is my most feared judge.

Here is the recipe! I hope you will like it.


For the Marinara Sauce (easy preparation)

Marinara Sauce

In a pot, heat 3 tbsp oil and sauté the garlic, carrot, and onion. Cook for 4-5 min until softened.

Add the contents of a can of tomatoes and cook on low heat with the lid (it will take 20 -30 mins). During the cooking process  adjust the sauce with salt and pepper, add 1/2 tbsp of dried oregano, and keep cooking until you reach a thick, richly flavored sauce.

Cooking the Cabbage

Put a large pot of water to boil. Take the cabbage leaves and, once the water is boiling, soak them for 2 mins so they soften. Immerse them one at a time being careful not to burn yourself.

Once you see that they get soft, place them in a colander and let them cool.

This step is important in order to make the cabbage leaves easy to fold without breaking them.

Millet Filling

Let’s cook the millet

Let’s start by washing the millet under cold water, drain and toast it in a large pot with a little oil.

In the meantime, boil the water (twice the volume of millet), and once is ready pour the water into the pot where with the millet, and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, lower the flame, add salt and let it simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes.

Cabbage Roll

Filling preparation

Let’s start by washing the vegetables. Cut both the carrots and onion first into julienne, and then into small pieces.

In a frying pan, heat a tablespoon of sesame oil and add the onions. Sauté them until golden brown and then add the carrots.

Cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally with a spoon.

After 3-4 minutes, turn off the flame and add the previously cooked millet to the vegetables. Mix everything and leave it to cool.

Dish Preparation

Take two generous spoonfuls of the filling and place them in the center of the cabbage leaf. Gently roll it up, taking care not to break it, and seal it with a toothpick. Repeat the operation until you have finished the stuffing.

Take an ovenproof dish and spread a light layer of marinara sauce on the base along with a drizzle of oil.

Place the cabbage rolls and cover again with a more abundant layer of marinara sauce, a drizzle of oil, salt, and pepper.

Bake in the oven at 180 degrees for 45 min and serve while still warm!

Also great as Obento!