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Cabbage Lentil Casserole

This dish is great for when you are entertaining as you can make most of it ahead of time. Filled with little spiced lentils and pearl barley. Recipe kindly sent in by Lorna.

Time 2 1/2 hrs
Skill Level Hard

Ingredients List

Serves 1
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup pearl barley
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 carrots diced
  • 1 1/2 cup lentils cooked, brown or green
  • 4 garlic cloves thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon all spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 cup tomato passata
  • 1 savoy cabbage


  1. Cook the barley in the broth, bring to the boil and then let simmer for about an hour.
  2. Heat a large, deep skillet over a medium heat. Add the onions and carrots and cook until the onions are soft. If needed add small amounts of water to prevent sticking.
  3. Add the barley with the broth, cooked lentils, garlic, thyme, bay leaf and all spice. 
  4. Cook, stirring, until fragrant.
  5. Add the tomato passata, reduce the heat to low and cook until the liquid is absorbed.
  6. Season to taste and set aside to cool.
  7. Peel off and discard the outermost leaves of the cabbage. Cut around the core to loosen leaves and gently remove 10 – 12 of the largest leaves. 
  8. If the stem ends of the leaves are very thick, you can whittle them down with a vegetable peeler/knife to make them thinner. You need the stem to be sturdy enough to support this dish so leave the stem functional.
  9. Bring a large pot of water to boil and add the leaves. Boil for 6-8 minutes. Do not overcook.  Drain leaves, rinse in cold water and leave to cool in colander.
  10. Preheat oven to Gas mark 4/180C/350F. Lightly oil a 18 cm/7inch round baking dish. Place the largest of the cabbage leaves curve side up in the dish so that it covers the bottom and the sides.
  11. Repeat with more leaves until you can not see the bottom of the baking dish and the sides are covered around the edge of the dish. 
  12. Place approximately ⅓ of the lentil mixture on top of the cabbage and spread. Smooth it evenly so that it spreads to all sides. Top it with a cabbage leaf.

  13. Repeat with two more layers of filling alternating with a cabbage leaf. You layer this just as you would a lasagna. Top with a cabbage leaf/leaves, curved side down, and tuck it in around the sides. Use a flat spatula or your hand to gently press down on the leaf, ensuring there are no gaps in the filling. 

  14. Bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes. Remove. If your top layer leaf has browned or curled, carefully peel off.

  15. Gently insert an icing spatula or flat dinner knife against the edge of the dish and run it around to loosen any edges. Place an upside-down serving plate on top of the casserole, so that the bottom of the plate is facing you.

  16. Flip the casserole onto the plate and serve.

The spices used in this dish can be changed to personal choice. 

You can also make this dish as individual rolls, lined up on a baking try like enchiladas, bake for 20 mins and finish by topping with a spiced tomato sauce, have a play!