I can’t quite do the incredible flavours and textures of these Tahini Tofu Cabbage Rolls justice with the name alone, so I hope you’re ready for some mouth-watering description. Think lemons, chilli, pickles, olives, tahini and all the heavenly things.
Let’s begin with two words: Healthy. Shawarma. (Or, let’s be honest, kebab.)
Healthy? Yes. Taste sensation? Absolutely.
If you love falafel wraps and Middle Eastern flavours, this is a must for your ‘to make’ list. Here are some of the delights rolled up in this bundle of brightness:
- crisp, tahini-marinated, amazing baked tofu;
- harissa and lemon-roasted chickpeas (which are so, SO good you have to stop yourself from eating them straight from the oven);
- sour pickles – the perfect partner to silky, garlicky tahini; and
- salty, tangy green olives.
But, you may be asking, why is it wrapped in cabbage? Well, I wanted to create something that was both wrap and a riff on the Lebanese baked cabbage rolls – something that was:
- packed full of Middle Eastern flavours;
- self-contained; and
- a little lighter than the traditional flatbread.
So we have something that is part baked cabbage roll and part wrap/shawarma, only without the meat.
And it turned out so well! The ingredients that are stuffed into the roll balance really well with the lightness of the cabbage-as-taste-sensation-vehicle. Not to mention the dream team of flavour-infused tahini, tofu and chickpeas.
And those harissa-baked chickpeas really are just wonderful…
Even if you’re not a cabbage fan, I think this will sway you. Not only is it lightly steamed, but it is also lightly-flavoured, so it really is more of a ‘platter’ than a flavour. It is most certainly not reminiscent of the boiled-for-hours unpleasantness of the 1950s (not that I was there, but 1. I have parents who were and 2. I went to school in a convent where the nuns had pans of cabbage on permanent boil, probably dating back to the 1950s).
Finally, I’d like to take a minute to revel in the glory of the discovery that tahini can be used as a marinade. Now, you will be familiar with my penchant for tahini-ing everything (check out the links at the bottom), but this really is a revelation for two reasons:
- it imparts that wonderful nutty, creamy flavour; and
- it acts as a coating – it is like breading tofu!
Which means when you bake it in the oven, you have fabulous chewy pieces of tofu encased in crisp garlicky wonderfulness! As I sad before – amazing.
So if you’re looking for something that’s crunchy, creamy, spicy, salty and sour, then this is the recipe for you. A Friday night dinner you can thoroughly enjoy with none of the guilt.
To make your own Harissa, click here for the recipe.
- For the tofu:
- 250-300g firm tofu, drained and pressed
- 2 tbsp tahini
- 1 tbsp water (if needed to loosen the tahini)
- Juice of ½ a lemon
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 heaped tsp each ground cumin, coriander, smoked paprika, dried oregano or marjoram
- ½ tsp cayenne
- For the chickpeas:
- 1 tin chickpeas (400g / drained weight 240g), rinsed and drained
- 1 tsp olive oil
- Juice of ½ a lemon
- 2 tsp dried oregano or marjoram
- 1 heaped tbsp harissa
- 4 large cabbage leaves (sweetheart cabbage works well)
- 6 small pickled cucumbers
- 10 green olives
- 2 tomatoes
- 2 spring onions
- At least 30 minutes before you start cooking, prepare the marinade by combining all the ingredients in a bowl - it will be quite thick, so loosen it a little with water if necessary.
- Cut the drained and pressed tofu into bite-sized pieces, place in a container and cover with the marinade. Cover and set aside.
- Heat the oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas Mark 4.
- Place the tofu pieces on a non-stick baking tray, carefully shaking off any excess marinade. Cook on the middle shelf of the oven for 30 minutes, turning once half-way through.
- Note: retain the leftover marinade to use for the sauce.
- At the same time, combine the chickpeas with the olive oil, lemon juice and oregano/marjoram in a roasting tin and cook on the top shelf for 30 minutes. Stir every 10 minutes to ensure an even crispness, adding the harissa for the final 10 minutes.
- While these are cooking, prepare the salad ingredients. Slice the pickles and olives, chop the tomatoes into small pieces, and chop the spring onions.
- minutes prior to serving, steam the cabbage leaves and pat dry.
- Add a couple of tablespoons of water to the leftover tofu marinade to create the sauce for the finished rolls.
- To assemble, spoon a little of each component into the centre of a cabbage leaf, drizzle over some of the sauce and wrap like a parcel - you'll be amazed at how well they stick together!
For more tahini-filled recipes, check out this Quinoa Cherry Bakewell, these Salted Maple Cookies and these Chewy Chocolate Tahini Cookies.