Italian Cabbage and Rice

Italian Cabbage and Rice

This Italian Cabbage and Rice is truly a “peasant dish”; my Nonna in Italy made it often, probably because it stretched ingredients to help feed her very large family.

However, to tell you the truth, I’d rather have this warm, comforting and tasty meal, than some fancy haute cusine, any day of the week!

If you are just beginning your “unprocessed journey” and are finding it challenging, you’re doing something right! It isn’t easy in the beginning, but soon you’ll realize that there are so many better options and alternatives to the processed ingredients you have been using, you’ll kick yourself for having used them for so long (I know I have). I am constantly “weeding out” ingredients which I’ve been using mostly out of habit, and replacing them with homemade or unprocessed versions.

Recipes like my Nonna’s Italian Cabbage and Rice are a step in the right direction on the road to enjoying unprocessed meals everyday. It is simple, yet empowering. It is inexpensive, yet delicious, but most of all, it’s healthy!

Going “unprocessed” is truly a journey, and as with any journey, it takes time, so have patience and enjoy the ride!

Italian Cabbage and Rice Detail

4.48 from 17 votes

Italian Cabbage and Rice

There's really no way to mess this up. Make it more soupy (add more water) for wintertime, or more dry for the hot summer weather. There's no right or wrong amount of vegetables, and as long as the rice is cooked, the length of cooking time can vary greatly too, and will not affect the final outcome in a significant way; it's a very forgiving meal!
Course Entree
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Yield 4 servings
Calories 156 kcal
Author Christina Conte


  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 or 2 celery stalks chopped
  • 3/4 cup tomato purée or fresh tomatoes, pureed in a blender
  • 4 to 5 cups water
  • 1 medium Savoy cabbage
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt more or less to your preference; you can always add more later
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/3 to 1 cup arborio rice or any other rice
  • grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese to serve, optional


  1. Heat the olive oil in a heavy pot, over medium high heat. Add the chopped onion and celery when hot. Stir and cook for about 5 minutes, until onion starts to become opaque.
  2. Remove the core from the cabbage (I eat this part, it's very yummy and good for you too!) and chop into thin strips.
  3. Meanwhile, add the tomato purée to the celery and onion and cook for about 5 minutes.
  4. Next, add the water (you can always add more later) and salt; then add the cabbage. Stir often, and bring to a boil, then allow to simmer for about 10 minutes, still continuing to stir occasionally.
  5. Then add the rice. Use less for a more soupy dish, more for a drier result.
  6. Stir well, and continue to simmer for 30-40 minutes, until rice is cooked.
  7. Serve with plenty of grated Parmesan (or Pecorino Romano) cheese!

Recipe Notes

This is a perfect crock pot meal too. Just sauté the veggies, then transfer to the crock pot, adding the rest of the ingredients. Let cook all day. Easy-peasy!!

About the Author

Christina Conte is 100% Italian, but was born in Scotland and now lives in California…so she makes everything ranging from Bruschetta to Sticky Toffee Pudding to Spicy Soba Noodles with Chicken and Peanut Sauce. She believes natural, simple and unprocessed ingredients are the best, and loves cooking, baking, and (cr)eating. You can find her millions of food photos, old family recipes, and what’s she’s just cooked at Christina’s Cucina, and you can follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

Notify of
Recipe Rating


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Veggie Val
October 6, 2013 2:35 pm

5 stars
You had me at “no way to mess this up.” But knowing I can use the crockpot is even better! Thanks!

October 6, 2013 2:45 pm
Reply to  Veggie Val

Ha ha! 🙂 You’re welcome, Val, I’m sure you’ll love it! CC

maureen cameron
maureen cameron
October 6, 2013 1:20 pm

It looks delicious but you really can’t say that white rice fits with unprocessed October. It has been well and truly processed!!

October 6, 2013 1:26 pm

Maureen, I wrote this post a while ago, so you can just substitute whatever sort of rice, or even spelt or farro, you are using during October Unprocessed 😉 CC

R. Lampe
R. Lampe
October 6, 2013 12:47 pm

This sounds similar to the unwrapped pigs in a blanket(minus the meat)that I enjoy. I gotta try it.

October 6, 2013 1:21 pm
Reply to  R. Lampe

R. Lampe, yes, you are absolutely right! It tastes like Pigs in a Blanket, but SOOOO much less work! Hope you like it as much as I do!! 🙂 CC

Marge Evans
Marge Evans
October 6, 2013 11:49 am

yuym yum! I going to make this, and then make it whith kimchi.

October 6, 2013 1:20 pm
Reply to  Marge Evans

Oh my, Marge! That sounds great! I actually make a kimchi soup which is rather similar to this…let me know how it goes! CC

October 6, 2013 11:08 am

Wow, what a simple and comforting dish! I don’t eat cheese, but I think I can whip up a Parmesan alternative (Andrew, does nooch pass the kitchen test?) to finish the dish with. Thanks for sharing this recipe, Christina!

October 6, 2013 1:18 pm
Reply to  Midge

You are very welcome, Midge! You can skip the cheese altogether if you can’t find an alternative…it’s still so yummy! CC

October 6, 2013 11:08 am

I forgot how much I love this dish. I can’t wait to make it.

October 6, 2013 1:17 pm
Reply to  Laura

Yay!! So happy to have reminded you, Laura! 🙂 CC

October 6, 2013 11:00 am

Could a short grain brown rice be substituted?

October 6, 2013 1:16 pm
Reply to  viva

Yes, Viva, you can use any type of rice! Enjoy! CC

October 6, 2013 10:00 am

I will archive in my folder and make this winter! I love cabbage and this seems simple and warming and tasty…comforting!

October 6, 2013 1:15 pm
Reply to  tanya

It is, Tanya! Let me know how you like it! Thanks! CC

October 6, 2013 2:21 pm
Reply to  Christina

5 stars
So you put the rice in uncooked to the crockpot? I’ve never done rice in a crockpot before but like the idea. Thanks.


October 6, 2013 2:34 pm
Reply to  Lisa

Yes, Lisa, however, just make sure you make a more soupy, than dry version in the crockpot. I would recommend using about 1/3 cup of rice with the amount of water specified in the recipe. Or, if you like more rice, just add more water. You just don’t want it to be too dry and end up sticking in the crockpot. Let me know how you like it! CC

Lentil Breakdown
October 6, 2013 9:16 am

I love peasant food like this but have never seen a recipe like this. Am excited to try it out!

October 6, 2013 4:28 pm

So happy you’re going to try it! Let me know what you think! 🙂 CC

October 6, 2013 8:46 am

Thank you, Andrew, for featuring my Nonna’s Italian Cabbage and Rice recipe for October Unprocessed! I’m sure she would have been delighted to know that her recipe is being shared with so many people who have a common goal to eat better and live healthier lives! CC

1 2 3