Sauerkraut Cabbage Layered Casserole

Explore Transylvania’s culinary roots with our twist on a classic Sauerkraut Cabbage Layered Casserole dish, known as ‘Varza a la Cluj’! This plant-based recipe honors the dish’s long-standing place in Transylvanian cuisine, loved by everyone since the 16th century.

Our Vegan Cabbage Casserole captures that essence by swapping traditional meat for a fantastic vegan mince made of mushrooms, walnuts, and lentils. It brings together the timeless taste of cabbage with today’s kinder cooking. It’s like time-travel for your taste buds!

This vegan version nods to Transylvania’s food legacy, giving a fresh, ethical, and plant-based spin to a beloved classic. Each delicious bite will whisk you away to a cozy kitchen, where the smell of this old-school recipe brings back memories of winters in Romania. It’s a tasty reminder of treasured moments and age-old traditions that make this dish the ultimate Transylvanian comfort food.

Preparation time 30 min
Cooking time 1 hr
This recipe keeps for 3 days

Ingredients (6 servings)

Cabbage Layer

  • 1000 g Sauerkraut (thinly shredded)
  • 1 tbsp, ground Thyme, dried
  • 1/2 tbsp Caraway seeds (optional, to taste)

Cream Layer

  • 1 cup Cashews
  • 1 cup Water

Mince Layer

  • 1 cup Lentils, raw (beluga)
  • 1 large Yellow onion (chopped)
  • 200 g Mushrooms, raw
  • 1/2 cup pieces or chips Walnuts
  • 4 tbsp Tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp Soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp Nutritional yeast
  • 2 clove Garlic, raw (minced)
  • 1,5 tsp, ground Cumin
  • 2 tsp, ground Thyme, dried
  • 2 tsp Paprika
  • 1/4 tsp, ground Black pepper

Rice Layer

  • 1 cup White rice, short-grain, raw

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  1. Cook the Lentils
    Rinse the lentils under cold running water to remove debris.
    Option Pressure Cooker:
    In the pressure cooker, combine the rinsed lentils with two parts water. Cook the lentils on high pressure for about 8 minutes. Allow a natural pressure release for 10 minutes, then perform a manual pressure release.
    Option on the Stove:
    Add the lentils and three parts water to a saucepan, bring it to a boil over high heat. Then, reduce the heat to low and simmer for around 20 minutes or until they reach the desired texture.
  2. Cook the Cabbage
    In a large pot over medium-low heat, cook the thinly shredded cabbage with thyme and caraway seeds, covered, for 20 minutes.
  3. Cook the Rice
    Combine the rice with two parts water in a medium pot and bring it to a boil over medium heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat, cover the pot with a lid, and let it simmer for approximately 17 minutes or until the water is fully absorbed. Remove the pot from the heat and allow it to rest, covered, for an additional 5 minutes. Finally, fluff the rice with a fork and set it aside.
  4. Soak the Cashews
    Soak cashews in enough boiling water to cover them for at least 15 minutes.
  5. Mince the Walnuts and Mushrooms
    Use a food processor to mince the walnuts and mushrooms, no more than 3-4 pulses, to maintain some texture.
  6. Saute the Onion for 3 to 5 Minutes
    In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, saute the finely chopped onions for 3-4 minutes.
  7. Saute the Walnuts and Mushrooms
    Add the minced walnuts and mushrooms to the skillet and saute for 5 minutes.
  8. Combine All Ingredients for the Mince
    Next, add the cooked and drained lentils, tomato paste, soy sauce, nutritional yeast, minced garlic, cumin, thyme, black pepper and paprika. Stir for one more minute and set aside.
  9. Make the Cashew Cream
    In a tall, narrow container, combine the soaked and rinsed cashews with the water. Use a stick blender to process the mixture until it becomes smooth and creamy.
  10. Preheat the Oven to 190 C
    Preheat the oven to 190 C (375 F).
  11. Layer 1 - Cabbage
    Divide the cabbage in two parts. In an oven-safe casserole dish measuring around 34 cm x 20 cm (or similar diameter), spread half of the cabbage, pressing it evenly.
  12. Layer 2 - Mince
    Spread the minced mixture over the cabbage.
  13. Layer 3 - Rice
    Spread the cooked rice over the mince.
  14. Layer 4 - Cabbage
    Spread the rest of the cabbage on top of the rice.
  15. Layer 5 - Cream
    Finish with a layer of cashew cream.
  16. Bake for 30 - 40 Minutes
    Bake for 30-40 minutes in the preheated oven.
  17. To Serve
    Let it rest for at least 10 minutes before cutting. Just before serving, generously top it with plant-based sour cream and serve alongside your favorite sourdough bread. Enjoy!
  18. Refrigerate for Up to 3 Days
    You can store this meal in your fridge for up to three days.

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One serving contains 542 calories, 21 grams of protein, 22 grams of fat, and 71 grams of carbohydrates.

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Written by

Andreea Matei

Hi, I'm Andreea Matei, one of the founders. Calling me a foodie would be an understatement. I wholeheartedly embrace life through the realm of taste. My kitchen experiments are my superpower. For me, amazing food encompasses three dimensions: it must be crazy delicious, nutritious, and mindful of our animal friends and beautiful planet.