Vegetarian cabbage rolls with buckwheat

Cabbage rolls (holubtsi in Ukrainian) are a dish consisting of cabbage leaves wrapped around different fillings. Though this dish is rather time-consuming to make, it’s totally worth the work.

Meatless cabbage rolls are just as delicious as the meat ones and can be served on their own. They are part of the 12 Christmas dishes in the traditional Ukrainian cuisine.

Today we’re going to stuff our cabbage rolls with a savory mix of buckwheat, carrot, and onion and bake them under a blanket of tomato sauce. Comfort food that is nourishing and healthy.


  • 1 head of white cabbage
  • 200 g (7 oz) buckwheat
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 bulb onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 3-4 tbsp tomato paste
  • 40 g (1,5 oz) dairy butter
  • Vegetable oil – for frying
  • Sour cream – for serving



The first step is to rinse buckwheat and toast it in a pan with a heavy bottom. Stir groats constantly until they become dry and a little brown. Pour 375 ml of water above and bring it to boil. Salt the buckwheat and cook it over low heat until slightly underdone.

Peel and wash carrots and onion. Chop the onion and finely cut the carrot. Fry the onion in preheated vegetable oil until golden brown. Then add the carrot and stew the ingredients together.

Combine the buckwheat and carrot-onion mass. Add in a squeezed garlic clove. The filling is done.

Cabbage leaves

Bring a separate large pot of water to a boil. Wash and core the cabbage. Unfurl all of the cabbage leaves and add them to the pot. Let the leaves steam until they become softened and pliable (around 10-15 minutes) – in such a way they won’t break when folded. Use a colander to transfer cabbage leaves to a plate. Set them aside to cool enough to handle. Leave the cabbage water, we’ll need it a bit later.

Let’s make rolls

When the cabbage leaves are cooled, separate large and small ones. We’ll use one small leaf per roll. As for large leaves, cut them into 2 or 3 pieces depending on their size. Next, trim off the hard stems to ensure the leaves will fold easily.

Put a tablespoon of the filling into the center of a leaf.

Fold the leaf up from the stem end, tucking in the edges as you roll. Keep rolling until you cover all the filling. Give a gentle squeeze to get out any excess air or water. Repeat with the remaining cabbage leaves and filling.

Take a glass casserole and arrange holubtsi in layers, seams down.

Tomato sauce

Combine dairy butter and tomato paste in a frying pan. Cook the mass over low heat until smooth (around 2 minutes). Cover the rolls with the diluted tomato sauce.

Pour the remaining cabbage water above cabbage rolls until it reaches the top layer. Cover the casserole with a tight-fitting lid or foil.

Put the cabbage rolls in the oven preheated to 350°F/180°C and bake them for about 45-60 minutes.

Serve holubtsi warm with a generous dollop of sour cream.

Enjoy your meal!

Have you liked the recipe for meatless holubtsi?

Join and follow us on social media to keep up-to-date with our freshest recipes, cooking tips, and entertaining articles related to the Ukrainian people, culture, and traditions!

Find us on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. to comment and share your favorite Ukrainian recipes with friends and relatives!