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.
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!
This article has been clinically reviewed by Hanna Rifkin, RD, CDCES, clinical health coach at One Drop.
Ricotta-Stuffed Cabbage Shells (Low Carb)
The next time you’re in the mood for Italian, skip the carb-loaded pasta and try low-carb ricotta-stuffed cabbage shells instead. Our version combines a creamy filling of ricotta and mozzarella with tender cabbage and sweet marinara sauce for a satisfying dinner. You may like this version better than the original. Buon appetito!
2 heads of green cabbage
2 eggs, beaten
1 32-oz container of ricotta cheese
- 1 pound of shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 jar tomato pasta sauce
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley or 1 teaspoon dried
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon red chili flakes (optional)
First, blanch the cabbage.
Start by removing and disposing of the outer leaves. Separate the individual leaves to be used in the stuffed shells.
Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil, then a simmer. Add the cabbage leaves and submerge them for 30 seconds or until they begin to wilt.
Remove the cabbage from the water and submerge it in ice water. Add more ice and allow the cabbage to cool completely.
Drain the cabbage and pat the leaves dry with a towel.
Then, stuff the cabbage “shells."
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Mix eggs, ricotta, half the mozzarella, parsley, oregano, salt, and pepper until combined.
Place a dollop of the cheese mixture in the center of each cabbage leaf. Form a "shell" by folding over the sides of each cabbage leaf and use toothpicks to hold the leaves in place.
Pour pasta sauce in a baking dish and place the shells in the sauce.
Sprinkle the rest of the mozzarella over the stuffed shells in the baking dish.
Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes (or enough to warm the dish and melt all of the cheese).
Calories 458, Carbs 19 grams, Fiber 5 grams, Fat 29 grams, Saturated Fat 17 grams, Protein 30 grams, Sodium 1042 milligrams