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Lentil Stuffed Cabbage Leaves (Lahanodolmathes Orfanoi)

Lentil Stuffed Cabbage Leaves (Lahanodolmathes Orfanoi)

By Lisa Stanton (www.greekvegetarian.blogspot.com.au)

The word ‘orfano’ is used at the end of a Greek dish title to indicate that it’s a vegetarian version of a dish that would normally contain meat. The dish is considered ‘orphaned’ without its meat component.


Ingredients (Serves 4-5):
1 large cabbage
2 cups cooked lentils
1/4 cup uncooked long-grain rice
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup olive oil
2 large onions, finely diced

For the tomato sauce:
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 400g cans chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons honey or 1 teaspoon sugar


  1. Place whole cabbage in a large pot, cover with water, bring to the boil and let simmer for 5 or 6 minutes.
  2. While the cabbage is cooking, fry the garlic for one minute until fragrant, then add chopped tomatoes, oregano, cinnamon, honey (or sugar) and salt and pepper to taste. Bring the tomato mixture to the boil and allow to simmer until you finish preparing the cabbage leaves (around 20 minutes).
  3. Heat remaining oil in a separate pot and set the onions to fry over low heat for around 20 minutes, or until golden, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, remove cooked cabbage from pot, drain and rinse under cold water.
  4. Carefully remove 8 to 10 large leaves from the cabbage, blot dry with a paper towel and trim thick parts of the stem using a paring knife, being careful not to slice through the cabbage leaf. The idea is to make the leaf as uniformly thin as possible, to enable easy rolling.
  5. Roughly chop up the remaining cabbage and use about two cups of this to cover the bottom of a heavy-based saute pan. You will need a pan that is around 25cm diameter with 6cm-high vertical sides and a lid. Drizzle with a few tablespoons of olive oil and set aside.
  6. Place cooked lentils, cooked onions and tomato paste in a large bowl, mix with your hands and season with salt and pepper to taste. Then add the uncooked rice and continue to mix with your hands until well combined. The mixture will be quite sloppy but will firm up when cooked.
  7. Remove tomato sauce from heat, cover and set aside. It should have been cooking for at least 15 minutes, but no longer than 30 minutes.
  8. Place about three teaspoons of the lentil filling onto a cabbage leaf and carefully roll up, folding in the sides before completing the roll, and place seam-side down on the bed of chopped cabbage in the saute pan.
  9. Repeat with remaining mixture and arrange all cabbage rolls in one layer in the saute pan.
  10. Pour tomato sauce over cabbage rolls until completely covered. If the sauce doesn’t completely cover the rolls, add water. Place lid over pan and simmer on very low heat for 2 hours.

This dish is hearty and healthy and freezes really well. Just defrost and reheat in a saucepan over low heat with the lid on. You can add a small amount of water if necessary.

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