Chestnut-filled Cabbage with Sunchoke and Cabbage-Tapioca

Nana, a vegetarian friend of mine, announced a vegetarian month, which aims to motivate people to prepare and eat a meatless meal at least once during this month. Besides eating less meat, hopefully the participants will also think a little bit about the vegetarian diet and probably notice that meat does not need to be present on the plate every day. All submitted recipes participate in a contest, where the winner gets an invitation to nana for a vegetarian dinner. Originating from nana’s call for recipes, I took the opportunity to give a thought not only about the vegetarian, but also about the vegan diet.

Reading my blog you might have noticed that I’m not vegan (yet). Although, on weekdays I prepare and eat mostly vegetarian and vegan dishes for dinner – without missing the meat or dairy components. Many people think that a vegan diet must be very limited and dull. I believe, this misconception originates from people imagining the vegan diet as their own minus meat and dairy products. Unfortunately, for most people there is not much left on the plate after such a subtraction. However, the variety of fruits and vegetables is huge and colorful, and with some imagination an endless number of dishes can be prepared with them. While developing new vegan dishes, I believe it is very important not to be guided by the thought of replacing the meat or dairy component. This kind of thinking limits the directions for a new dish enormously and the results will be no good. When I was thinking about elaborate vegan dishes I imagined that meat and dairy never existed, which gave me a large degree of freedom – that is, hopefully, mirrored in my results.

Protein and calcium are two very popular excuses of meat-eaters and milk-drinkers, because since early childhood we have learned that for proteins we need to eat meat and for calcium consume dairy products. Surprisingly, the most calcium of all foodstuffs can be found in poppy seeds. Well, they are unfortunately not quite popular, but e.g. sesame seeds, soybeans, almonds, parsley, hazelnuts, watercress, kale, spinach etc. all contain more calcium as milk. Another surprising fact that many people are not aware of is that legumes and nuts contain the same amount of proteins as meats. So the daily requirements of both calcium and proteins can be covered in a vegan diet. Of course, you need to take care about eating sufficient amounts of different food groups, but you should take similar care even if you eat meat and drink milk.

Chestnut-filled Cabbage with Sunchoke and Cabbage-Tapioca

I prepared a four course vegan meal from which this is the amuse gueule or appetizer. Chestnut puree is a traditional Hungarian dessert, but chestnuts work great in savory dishes too. One of the best savory pairings for chestnuts are cabbages like Brussels sprouts or this savoy cabbage. To avoid using milk, I prepared the chestnut puree from scratch and added some sour apple and fresh ginger. Afterwards, I wrapped the puree in a blanched savoy cabbage leaf. Because the cabbage cannelloni can’t be cut in pieces with a spoon, you should either serve the appetizer with knife and fork or cut the roll in 3-4 pieces while plating the dish. I used the remaining parts of the cabbage for a very intense broth, which I flavored with vinegar to contrast the slightly sweet chestnut puree. For thickening the sauce I used a technique from the cookbook Pure Nature by Nils Henkel. The tapioca pearls not only thickened the sauce, but also added a nice jelly-like consistency. On this cabbage sauce I plated some sunchoke (Jerusalem artichoke) cubes and added the cannelloni on top. For a crispy texture and a kind of spicy flavor I finished the plate with a caraway and dill seed cracker.

Chestnut-filled Cabbage with Sunchoke and Cabbage-Tapioca

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Yield: 8 portions

Chestnut-filled Cabbage with Sunchoke and Cabbage-Tapioca


  • 150 g chestnuts
  • 1/2 apple, sour
  • 1 mm thin slice fresh ginger
  • 20 ml vermouth, dry
  • 400 g savoy cabbage
  • 30 g tapioca pearls
  • 4 Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes)
  • 200 ml apple juice, unsweetened
  • 50 g flour
  • 5 ml rapeseed oil
  • 1/4 tsp caraway seeds
  • 1/4 tsp dill seeds
  • white wine vinegar
  • salt


For the chestnut puree
Preheat the oven to 200°C / 390 F.
Wash the chestnuts and using a sharp knife carefully make a long cut on their curved side. Try to avoid hurting the inner nut. Put on a hot baking tray and add a cup of water (200 ml). Bake for 7-8 minutes shaking the tray from time to time. Turn off the heat and leave the chestnuts in the oven. Remove on by one as chestnuts can be peeled much easier while hot. Remove the outer shell and the inner thin skin. Put the cleaned chestnuts into a small pan, add a half cup (100 ml) water, cover and cook at low heat until the chestnuts are completely cooked through. Press the chestnuts and the cooking liquid through a very fine sieve and reserve.
For the caraway and dill seed crackers
Knead 50 g flour, 30 ml water, 5 ml rapeseed oil and a pinch of salt to a dough. Wrap in plastic foil and leave in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Unwrap and put on a silicon mat or baking paper and roll out very thinly. In a clean pan roast the caraway and dill seeds until fragrant. Sprinkle the thin dough with the seeds and gently press the seeds into the dough using a flat scraper. Put the silicon mat or baking paper on a grid and bake in the oven at 200°C / 390 F until golden brown and crispy. Remove from the oven and brake into chips.
For the cabbage leaves
Discard the outer 1-2 brown leaves. Remove 4 green leaves and wash. Cut in half lengthwise and discard the central hard leaf vein. Cook the leaves in plenty very salty water for 3-4 minutes until tender. Drain and immediately chill in ice water. Stack the leaves on each other and press out the water from the leaves with you hands. Cover with kitchen paper and reserve.
For the cabbage broth
Chop the remaining cabbage and cook in 1.5 l water for 1.5 hours. Drain the cooking liquid and reserve. Press out all the liquid from the cooked cabbage and add to the cooking water. Discard the solids. Reduce the cabbage broth to 300 ml (1.5 cups). Season with salt and white wine vinegar. Wash the tapioca pearls in cold water until the water runs through clear. Add the tapioca to the hot broth, bring to a boil and cook at low temperature until the tapioca turns translucent. Keep warm until serving.
For the sunchokes
Wash and peel the sunchokes. Cut into 8mm cubes and cook in 200 ml salted apple juice over low heat until tender. Drain and keep warm.
For the cannelloni
Wash and peel the apple and cut into 3mm cubes. Peel the ginger and chop very finely. Warm the chestnut puree stirring constantly in a small pan over low heat. Add the ginger and apple. Season with a pinch of salt.
Trim the blanched cabbage leaves to a rectangle of about 6cm. Add a tbsp chestnut puree on the inner leaf side of the cabbage and roll up to a cannelloni. Put the cannelloni on a plate and cover with clingfilm. Warm the cannelloni in the oven at 100°C / 210 F.
To serve
Put 1 tbsp cabbage broth on small warm plates and add 2 tsp sunchoke cubes on top. Put a cannelloni on it (you might want to trim it into 3-4 pieces so you won't need a knife and fork to eat it). Garnish with a caraway and dill seed cracker.