Niños Envueltos – Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

These cabbage rolls are a mixture of rice and beef mince wrapped in cabbage leaves and slowly cooked in a tomato sauce. This healthy and delicious dish can be frozen, just like spring rolls, and reheated later.

Niños Envueltos - Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1 whole savoy cabbage
  • 15 Roma tomatoes
  • 2 small onions, diced
  • 500 g beef mince (preferably lean mince)
  • 1 tablespoon each chopped fresh thyme, rosemary and basil
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil (plus extra to serve)
  • salt (to taste)
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 1 green chilli, cut into small dice
  • 40 g Parmesan cheese, finely grated (or to taste)
  • bread, to serve
  1. Cook arborio rice according to packet directions.
  2. Remove the core of the cabbage, place in a sink of cold water and separate the leaves one at a time. Blanch the leaves in a saucepan of salted boiling water for 30 seconds, cool down straight away in iced water and dry between kitchen towels.
  3. Score the base of each tomato, then in the same saucepan of boiling water, blanch the tomatoes for 30 seconds, place in cold water, then peel and dice.
  4. Place a large, heavy fry-pan over high heat, add 1 tablespoon oil and mince, fry, breaking up with a wooden spoon until golden brown. Season to taste and place into a bowl.
  5. Cook the onions in the same pan with remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, thyme and rosemary until softened. Cool slightly, then mix with meat, lemon zest and juice, chopped chilli and rice, check the seasoning.
  6. Add the diced tomatoes to a large, heavy fry-pan deep enough for two layers of rolls and place over medium heat. Cook for 10 minutes, to soften the tomatoes.
  7. Meanwhile, remove the hard central stem from the cabbage leaves, cutting all the way to the edge to make 2 halves. Place a rounded tablespoon of the mix and roll like a spring roll. Place one by one into the tomato sauce, forming a second layer if necessary. Cover and simmer gently for 20 minutes until cabbage is tender and rolls are cooked through. Make sure the sauce doesn’t burn, add more water if necessary.
  8. To finish, grate some Parmesan on top and sprinkle with freshly chopped basil.
  9. Serve with bread and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

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