Ricotta-Stuffed Cabbage Shells (Low-Carb Recipe)

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Looking for a rich, low-carb alternative to stuffed pasta shells? We've got you covered.

Here's a hearty and cheesy dish that's sure to be a hit at dinner time. We substituted the pasta shells with cabbage shells, so you can feast while still keeping your blood sugars in line.

With our version of stuffed shells, you’ll get to enjoy the satisfying flavors of Italian comfort food without the extra carbs that come with pasta. Plus, it’s 100% meat-free, making it perfect for vegetarians or if you’re trying to cut down on eating meat. 

The star of this low-carb stuffed cabbage is the creamy, flavorful filling made from two kinds of cheeses: ricotta and mozzarella. Both are fantastic low-carb ingredients packed with protein and calcium. Add a little oregano and parsley, and you’ve got classic Italian goodness. 

But the real magic in this dish comes from the cabbage. By blanching the cabbage leaves until they’re slightly tender and bendable, they become a delicious and low-carb substitute for carb-heavy pasta shells. If you’re not a fan of cabbage, not to fear—the cabbage shells really play second fiddle to the cheese and sauce of the rest of the dish. Trust us, you will barely tell the difference between the cabbage shells and pasta shells in the finished product.

As you shop for this low-carb stuffed cabbage recipe, be sure to pick out a high-quality pasta sauce. We recommend Rao’s marinara sauce. We agree with Bon Appetit magazine’s take on the legendary sauce: “Rao's marinara sauce is very well-balanced with sweetness that comes solely from tomatoes, onions, and garlic. There aren’t any other performance enhancing drugs getting in the way of a balanced tomato sauce.” Rao’s has no added sugar, so for those of us watching our carbs, it becomes an obvious choice.

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What to Eat with Stuffed Cabbage Shells

In terms of side dishes, this low-carb stuffed cabbage plays well with others. There are plenty of options that can complement the richness of this dish. Our favorite side dishes include:

Simple green salad. Fresh greens like arugula, spinach, or romaine can provide a crispy contrast to the creamy filling of the cabbage. Add some nuts, seeds, or cheese for extra flavor and texture. You could also plate the stuffed cabbage directly on top of a bed of raw spinach. 

Roasted vegetables. Asparagus, broccoli, and cauliflower are all tasty low-carb veggies that lend themselves well to roasting. Roasting vegetables is incredibly simple: preheat your oven to 425°F, spread your favorite veggies on a baking sheet, toss with some olive oil and spices, and roast until tender, checking every 10 to 15 minutes until done. The extra  fiber from the veggies will help keep you feeling full and satisfied.

Cauliflower rice. For a more substantial side dish, consider serving the low-carb stuffed cabbage with cauliflower rice. Season them with some herbs and spices for flavor.

When it comes to low-carb dupes, these ricotta-stuffed cabbage shells can’t be beat. The next time you’re in the mood for Italian, skip the carb-loaded pasta and try this delectable low-carb stuffed cabbage instead. You may even like it better than the original!

Buon appetito!

This article has been clinically reviewed by Hanna Rifkin, RD, CDCES, clinical health coach at One Drop.

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Sara Huneke
Feb 18, 2023

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