Greek Meatless Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Rice (Lahanodolmathes Orphana)

Lahanodolmathes Orphana
Lahanodolmathes Orphana

Daniel Fast Greek Meatless Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Rice

The following is based on this recipe.  The word “orphana” means “orphaned” and in Greek cooking, usually means a dish that can be made with meat, but in this case is made without. Cabbage is a favorite winter food, and this meatless recipe is delightful and a Lenten favorite. These cabbage rolls are delicious as a main dish, but often made using small pieces of the cabbage leaf, to create small rolls that are perfect as a side dish, addition to a buffet table, or appetizer. Try them also using chard leaves and Romaine lettuce leaves.

Because of the lack of meat, this dish is perfect for Lent or a Daniel Fast.


30 cabbage leaves (or chard, or Romaine)
2 cups rice (preferably long grain)
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 ripe medium tomatoes, finely chopped
1 rounded TBS finely chopped fresh mint
⅔ cup finely chopped zucchini or Italian squash
½ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
⅔ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp fresh ground pepper
2 TBS Kosher or sea salt
1 tsp cumin
2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
1 cup water (approximately)
juice of 1 lemon (about 4 tablespoons)
1 tsp flour


large bowl
large pot to boil cabbage leaves
large pot to cook the final product
ceramic plate to cover the rolls as the cook
small bowl
measuring cups/spoons



Thoroughly mix together the onion, rice, tomatoes, squash, mint, parsley, salt, pepper, cumin, and olive oil in a large bowl.  Set aside.


To remove the core of the cabbage take the cabbage in both hands and hit it onto the countertop hard, stem [base] side down.  The core should come out very easy after that.  Then, stick a large fork into the center so that it looks like a cabbage lollipop

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Immerse the cabbage, leaving the fork in. When the outer leaves turn bright green, remove using the fork and remove softened leaves. Return to pot and repeat until all cabbage leaves have been removed.

If using chard or romaine: Blanch leaves in hot water until they soften and turn darker green. Remove thick stems if necessary. To use very large chard leaves, cut in half and fill each half.


Don’t roll the rolls too tightly!

Line the bottom of a large pot with any torn or unused leaves (and trimmed thick stems) and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

For large rolls, place a heaping tablespoon of filling 1 inch from the thick end of the cabbage leaf. Fold the bottom over the filling, fold the sides in, and roll up.

For small rolls, place 1 teaspoon of filling at one side of the leaf part, fold the leaf up over the filling, fold in sides, and roll up.

Place rolls closely together, seam side down in the pot in as many layers as needed. Cover with a plate that fits over the rolls, turned upside down. Bring to a full boil over medium heat (it will boil with its own liquid). Add water to cover the rolls.  Return to a full boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover with the plate, and cook for 20 minutes.  Test to make sure rice is fully cooked. Remove the plate.

In a small bowl, stir the flour into the lemon juice until dissolved. Add several tablespoons of liquid from the pot and stir. Pour into the pot and shake the pot gently to distribute.

Let sit 10 to 20 minutes before serving.


Varies: 10-20 depending upon size

No cholesterol
High in vitamin C

In Greek: λαχανοντολμάδες ορφανά, pronounced lah-hah-no-dol-MAH-thes or-fah-NAH

Don’t roll too tightly. The rice will need some room to expand during cooking.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

I would love to hear any feedback about this recipe.  Did you make it?  Did you enjoy it?  Did you make any adjustments to it?


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This post was linked to:
Mama Says – Carnival of Meatless Meals

Real Food Wednesdays

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