Photo credit: Sarah Shatz

The conversation at dinner went a little something like this:

Joel: “Oh my gosh!  This is so good!  This cabbage is suspiciously delicious.  Is it actually meat or something?  Is there bacon in here?”

Me: “Umm, no.  I don’t know.  There’s no bacon.”

Joel: “Well, then what did you put in it that makes it taste like that?”

Me: “Maybe the ginger?”

And thus was born “suspiciously delicious cabbage.”  It really is kind of remarkable, because when you look at the list of ingredients, it doesn’t seem like much.  But the resulting cabbage is creamy, infused with the flavors of onion, garlic, and ginger, and amazingly addictive.  So very much more than the sum of its parts.  The caramelized bits from the cabbage suffuses the cream with umami, and the ginger gives a unique, but mellow, sophistication.

Photo credit: Sarah Shatz

I based this braised cabbage off of a recipe that I saw in a Food & Wine magazine from several years ago.  Looking back at it, the original recipe was actually for kale, and called for all sorts of other things like turmeric, and buttermilk, and steaming.  Apparently the only things I actually took away from the recipe were ginger and cream.  But, I like to think that those were really the important things.  I wanted others to know about my newly discovered cabbage recipe, so I posted it on Food52.  Then I entered it into the contest for ‘your best vegetarian holiday side dish.’  It was a vegetarian side dish, so why not?   I thought no further of it until a couple of weeks later, much to my surprise and delight it was chosen as one of the two finalists for the competition!  I was so incredibly flattered and excited.

Photo credit: Sarah Shatz

I won’t build up any suspense here – after all, we just want to get to the recipe, right? So, I’ll tell you right off the bat that I didn’t win.  I didn’t really expect too.  Cabbage (even delicious cabbage) can be a tough sell, and I thought of it as a dark horse.  Plus, it was up against a truly gorgeous and creative squash dish with an apple fennel relish.  This cabbage dish, for all its merits, is not exactly a looker.  No whistles and cat calls when it walks down the street. It’s a little more like your best friend – you don’t care what they look like because you know they’re wonderful and comfortable and dependable.  And they have a little character!

But, you don’t have to take my word for it! (Channeling my inner Lavar Burton there – remember him?)  By virtue of its being the runner up in the competition, I received all sorts of wonderful feedback and compliments from people who had a chance to cook the recipe.  This, my friends, is a cabbage with testimonials!  “It’s the kind of dish that inspires you to keep sneaking forkfuls long past the end of the meal.”  One cook called it “rock star cabbage.”  Someone told me that a relative of theirs who hates vegetables ate it, and afterward told his mother that she could cook it for him every day the rest of his life, and he would be happy.  Still another said her children who normally “throw up a little in their mouths” (ewwwww) at the thought of cabbage, ate it “like it was their last meal.”

Now, don’t you think it’s time you give it a try?! (p.s. I also have a dish that won a wild card round on food52 last summer, if you’d like to check it out :) )

Suspiciously Delicious Cabbage (serves 4-6)

  • 1 medium green cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon (heaping) grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cups heavy cream
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. In a very large pan, heat the butter over medium heat until it is melted and starting to bubble a little. Stir in the onion and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes, until softened.
  2. Stir in the ginger and cook for about a minute. Then, add in the cabbage, stirring well to coat it with the butter and other flavors. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 15-20 minutes, until the cabbage has softened and caramelized.
  3. Turn the heat to low and stir in the cream making sure to scrape any browned bits up from the pan bottom. Cover and cook over low for about 10 minutes. Uncover, add salt and pepper to taste. Then cook for a few more minutes, stirring once or twice, to let some of the liquid evaporate. Adjust seasonings as desired and serve.

14 Responses to Cabbage for cabbage haters (or cabbage lovers for that matter!)

  1. Rhonda says:

    I love cabbage and would eat eat this in a minute but I think the reason it tastes so good, even for those who don’t like cabbage, is all the cream in the recipe as cream makes anything taste good!!….just my humble opinion.

  2. Lise Lunge-Larsen says:

    Yum,yum!! The two of us ate almost an entire head of cabbage because it was so delicious. Really terrific with lovely Wisconsin brats.

  3. Kimberley says:

    I like cabbage but it never seems to agree with me, so I shy away from it. I like ginger even more, however, and find this intriguing enough (and so intriguingly simple!) that I have to give it a try.

    • Emily (Kuross) Vikre says:

      Well, if you give it a try, I would love to hear what you think! I hope you like it. Maybe start by eating a small amount, so hopefully it won’t disagree with you!

  4. chaoscuisine says:

    I didn’t have German type sausage but did have ‘Lava Lake Lamb’ garlic rosemary sausage (they are having a 25% off Spring sale)so paired it with your very delicious cabbage recipe. Loved it!

  5. Krixee says:

    I’m going to try this tonight…oh how I hope that my boyfriend, sworn cabbage-hater, will at least TRY it!

  6. Lisa Reilly says:

    My husband is on the Dean Ornish Heart Reversal Diet, I am going to try it with yogurt, I’ll let you know how it goes…

  7. GOWRI SANJEEV OBEROI says:

    I have a simple cabbage recipe which is loved by even my 10 year old cabbage hater.
    Heat oil in a wok, add mustard seeds and let it splutter, then add some asafetida powder (easily available in stores that sell indian groceries – but is optional),
    Add the chopped cabbage and sprinkle a few spoons of water.
    Sprinkle 1tsp of cumin powder, 1tsp of black pepper powder and salt as per taste.
    Cover and cook for 5 minutes.
    Then the most important… add some freshly grated coconut about 2 tablespoons and mix and wait till the liquid evaporates and cabbage starts sticking to the wok. Now its ready to be served.
    I stuff it in flatbread and serve as a wrap and my kids love it!
    This can also be eaten as a salad :)

  8. […] So here I am, alone on a Saturday night. And instead of going out or watching a movie I am contemplating what to do with the two daikon radishes (yes, I ignored the one from last week too!) and the extremely large head of cabbage. It seems like fermentation is the answer here. Or maybe some of this ‘suspiciously delicious cabbage.’ […]

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