A deliciously cheesy, comforting gluten free lasagna made with cabbage leaves for the lasagne noodles and a tasty red lentil bolognese. You won’t believe how decadent this lasagna is! It’s a real treat that is super inclusive too – vegetarian, gluten free, and high in protein!
This recipe was first published in 2015, and has been updated in 2022 with new photos.
So I’m sharing a recipe for a gluten free lasagna, using cabbage instead of pasta noodles. Whaaaat. Bet you never thought you’d see the day that I actively removed a carb from my meal?
Why cabbage lasagna is worth a try
Lasagna is great, and if it ain’t broke… why are we going down this route today?
Because it’s a legitimately tasty healthier alternative which is totally worth a try.
- For those who have issues with wheat or gluten, this recipe gives them a chance to recreate that cheesy, gooey, melty goodness of a lasagna.
- For those watching their carbs, it can be useful to ditch the pasta noodles. This isn’t really low carb, because it does contain lentils which have carbohydrates, but it does get rid of the simple carbohydrates that white pasta brought to the table.
- And I think we all know we need more green leafy vegetables in our lives, so finding a way to add them to comfort food, and actually love it, is a pretty big win.
This is not a recipe where you’re trying to hide your vegetables- you do need to like cabbage to enjoy this. It does stay fairly chewy and leafy. But if you enjoy cabbage in other contexts, then you’re golden. I really think you’ll be surprised by this.
How does cabbage lasagna even work?
It’s a valid question. Let’s take a look.
Basically, cabbage leaves (left whole) stand in for lasagne noodles. We braise the leaves in white wine for flavor, then layer it all up like a normal lasagna.
Some other things to bear in mind when making cabbage lasagna…
- There is no pasta to soak up excess liquid, so this lasagne can turn out soupy and wet if your sauce is too watery or thin. Cook it to the consistency you want to eat it at. This recipe uses a chunky red lentil sauce, which adds great texture to the dish and the lentils will help soak up the excess liquid in your canned tomatoes.
- I’ve only ever made this with green cabbage; I think red would be too bitter, but feel free to try it if you wish.
Take this concept and run with it! There is so much you can do to personalize this recipe:
- If you want to add extra vegetables, the easiest way is to just incorporate them into the sauce recipe. Mushrooms, peppers, zucchini, all good. Just saute the vegetables alongside the onions and proceed with the recipe when they’re cooked to your liking.
- Speaking of the sauce, feel free to enhance it with some more spices and herbs if you like. It’s very simple, very agreeable, but flavor boosts such as olives, fennel seeds, smoked paprika, sundried tomato or capers would all be super tasty here.
- You can skip my lentil sauce recipe entirely and use a pre-made sauce if you wish, though I would be careful not to use anything too thin or watery. I do think something chunky and substantial works best (a veggie bolognese of some sort) to break up the cabbage leaves. It doesn’t have to be lentils, you could make up a quick bolognese with soy crumbles, quorn, beans, mushrooms, anything you wish.
- Mix up the cheeses! The ricotta cheese is optional. It’s a nice touch, I enjoy the extra creaminess and it makes it feel more like a lasagna to me (having grown up with the North American ricotta-based lasagnas rather than the classic bechamel). This tastes plenty good with just the lentil sauce and a extra grated cheddar. If you do it this way, just make identical layers of sauce topped with a few handfuls of cheese.
More gluten free ideas:
Vegetarian Cabbage Lasagna with Red Lentil Sauce
- 1 head leafy cabbage (I used savoy), Leaves removed, rinsed and patted dry
- 1 small glass white wine
- 500 g (18 oz) of ricotta cheese
- A few handfuls grated mozzarella cheese, see notes
- A few handfuls grated cheddar and/or parmesan cheese, see notes
- 3 cans chopped tomatoes, 14oz / 400g size
- 1 red onion, minced
- 6 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 Tbsp mixed Italian dried herbs
- 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 200 g (1 cup) dried red lentils
- First, make the lentil sauce. In a large saucepan, soften the onions and garlic in olive oil until fragrant. Add the herbs, and then the canned tomatoes. Once bubbling, add the red lentils + half a cup of water (120mls). Bring to a simmer, add the balsamic vinegar and lots of salt and pepper, and then leave simmering for at least half an hour. Stir regularly, and add additional water if the mixture gets too thick.
- Meanwhile, prepare the cabbage leaves. You ideally want to cook this in a deep frying pan or shallow casserole dish with a lid. Heat a glug of olive oil and throw in 4-5 cabbage leaves, with a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper. Fry for about 30 seconds, and then add a little white wine (about 1-2 tablespoons worth at a time). Cover, and allow the wine to steam the cabbage leaves until they have softened. You don't want them to be fully cooked, just a little softened up, and infused with the flavor. Do this in batches until the entire head's worth of cabbage has been prepared.
- Assemble your lasagne. First, pour a little lentil sauce into the bottom. Cover with one layer of cabbage leaves, and then spoon 1/2 of the remaining lentil sauce on top. Cover with another layer of cabbage leaves, and then spoon all of the ricotta cheese, and handfuls of the other cheeses on top. Cover with the final layer of cabbage leaves, and then the remaining lentil sauce. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes at 180C / 350F.
- Remove from the oven and take off the foil. Cover the lasagne with a mix of mozzarella and grated cheddar (or whichever hard cheese you're using). Return to the oven and cook, uncovered, for another 20 minutes.
- Use the grill (broiler) to brown the cheese if required.
- Once finished, allow to stand for about 10 minutes before slicing and eating.
Hope you enjoy it!
More on the 2022 Update:
This was first published back in 2015, and while the recipe remains the same, the photos and post were given an overhaul in 2022. You may be confused if you came in through Pinterest, where these original photos are still floating around…