One thing I surely thought I would have to give up when I adopted a plant-based lifestyle were my momma’s halupkis: tightly rolled pigs in a blanket stuffed with ground meat and rice. These were little joys and the meal was inexpensive to make to come home to or for Sunday dinner after church or at a church bazaar or carnival in the Pennsylvania coal region. When I was little, I didn’t even want to know how they were made because that would destroy the sheer mystery and the magic of it: knowing too much as in some things were better not knowing. All I knew was that they were delicious and that was fine.
I think I could safely say the same for these vegan halupkis – even though it can be sometimes hard to convince a member of a mining family. Hard times were imminent if you weren’t the son or daughter of very wealthy parents. The children of mining families often sacrificed an education to help out their parents. The days were long and grueling, but they sure know a good thing about how to make food taste good on what little they had. Halupkis, or cabbage rolls, are made up of inexpensive or peasant items. They were fashioned somewhere during the Depression era and were most popular as being a part of the staple diet in places like Serbia and Croatia.
No great recipe comes equipped without snapping on these pearls. They belonged to my great aunt before they were passed down to me.
While meat was expensive to obtain during the Great Depression, the rice and cabbage were relatively inexpensive. The ingredients to make vegan halupkis are inexpensive to maintain: using pantry ingredients such as green lentils, walnuts and brown rice. When you mix the batter up and roll your halupki, you’ll too be amazed by how similar the vegan selection reminds you so much of the traditional recipe. It impressed my mom who said she couldn’t tell so much of a difference between the two after tasting it. They are just perfect during those lengthy fasting periods when you’re craving a hamburger but can whip this recipe up instead as you’ll still reap a sufficient amount of protein from the lentils and good fat from the walnuts or if you too are transitioning to a plant based diet.
Only thing is I cannot wait to make this one again during Dormition Fast in August with summer tomatoes fresh off the vine that I like to make it using some tomato sauce from scratch. Instead for this recipe, I used crushed tomato sauce in the jar (Jamie K recommends the crushed tomatoes, not just the tomato sauce in a jar) which works but homemade tomato sauce takes everything to another level. That takes time and as much as I advocate homemade, I still get lazy too. Growl. I’m working on it, guys.
I cannot thank Jamie K of Save the Kales blog enough for that. Jamie K is originally a coal region girl herself that has transitioned to a veganism and blogs about and has her own YouTube channel to share affordable and delicious easy to make vegan recipes. She’s a very good and thorough instructor too.
For the health nut nerds like myself. I like to know what I’m eating and how good it is for me. So, I’m going to start posting some basic nutritional information.Keep in mind that I have no formal training in nutrition or health outside of my massage degree. I cannot diagnose nor should this blog should be used for diet advice. If you have any questions along those lines, it recommended that you talk with the appropriate practitioner.
If you like the fact that I am posting nutritional facts and it helps you to be better plan meals, please give me feedback!
Lentil beans, rice and walnuts are packed with vitamins.
- Lentil beans have 14 calories per 1 tablespoon. For that amount, you’re getting 45mcg of potassium and 2.5g of carbs and 1g of fiber. Lentils are legumes and are one of the most universal and cheapest ways of adding more fiber to your diet. Lentils also contain cardiovascular benefits and are excellent for maintaining blood sugar.
- Walnuts have a wide range of cardiovascular benefits and are rich in Vitamin E and are said to even help manage weight.
Vegan Halupkis (Vegan, Soy Free, Salt Free, Oil Free, Heart Healthy)
Adapted from Jamie K of Save the Kales Blog
Under $10 ($. Under $30 if you use all organic ingredients.)
Serves 2 dozen
1 head of cabbage
2 cups of homemade tomato sauce (or 1 can of crushed tomato sauce)
1 1/2 cups of basmati rice
1 1/2 cups of green lentil beans
1 cup of walnuts (It doesn’t have to be organic unless one of you health nerds can back that up with some solid evidence in the comments.)
1 tsp of caraway seeds (If you don’t have caraway, try cardamom.)
1 tsp of allspice powder.
- Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.
- Boil a head of lettuce. for 15-20 minutes. The idea is to get the layers of cabbage to fall off gently and as they do, you can take tongs to remove them to place on a sheet pan once the cabbage is off the heat and it’s cooled down. Set aside.
- Grind up the walnuts in a high speed blender or food processor. Add to a mixing bowl. This helps add texture.
- Boil both the lentils and the basmati rice in each separate pots until they are softened. This will not take long – only about ten minutes.
- Add the rice to a mixing bowl with the walnuts. Add in the spices and mix before you add the lentils to the bowl. Jamie K says by adding the rice and the lentils one at a time, this adds texture. Before adding the lentils, you want to pulsate them so they are soft and a little mushy. I found what best gets the job done is a Ninja or Vitamix or food processor. If using a high speed blender, definitely add in any water that’s left over from when you boiled the lentils.
Now add it to the mixing bowl. Mix it up using a masher or your hands. And you get something like this. Look familier… at all?
Now grab your cabbage leaves, your filling (the rice-nut-bean mixture) and the roasting pan with the layer of tomato sauce and almost working in an assembly line fashion…
. Working piece by piece, lay out a cabbage leaf on a board and scoop up a rice-bean-nut mixture and put it into the cabbage leaf. Now roll it up tightly tucking in the loose ends as best as you can. Sometimes, the cabbage stem may disrupt you from getting you to accomplish a nice, tight roll so you can take a paring knife to gently snip it off. Repeat until you use the rest of the cabbage leaves and filling you want to use. You will make a lot so what you don’t use can become tomorrow’s or this week’s leftovers – OR you can make them to freeze.
When you’re done rolling the ones you want to use, layer them into a pan and pour more tomato sauce over each roll. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes.
Have you tried this recipe? What do you think?