Mixed Greens Blog

Mixed Greens Blog
Living Sustainably in the Pacific Northwest


Cabbage Italian Style

Winter cabbage is the party guest who arrives early and stays, maybe a little too long, but is flexible and helpful therefore welcome. So it is with cabbage. God love her robust, firm, round little body, ready to take on a culinary challenge any day.  Mid-February and the choices for locally grown food seem to be Brassica, Brassica and more Brassica.


Enough already, but not quite.  Here’s another cabbage dish that we’ve been making for years and that we love.  When Bob cooks he’ll browse through a cookbook to find something interesting and then follow the recipe exactly, at least the first time through. He found this one in the Inverno (winter) chapter of The Seasons of the Italian Kitchen cookbook (Darrow & Maresca).  He’ll make their Cops Risotto with this braised cabbage on the side.  What  a meal.

Cabbage in the fridge, I made this batch on its own last week.  Use red or green cabbage – Napa would be fine too and wouldn’t need as much cooking time. If you use any red cabbage the entire dish will be red in the end.  Capers and olives make this one unique, and give it a Mediterranean kick.  Not a bad idea mid-winter.

Brassicas ‘forever’ isn’t just a mindless phrase with these guys,  they do stick around awhile.  Thankfully, they’re packed with good *nutrients for our winter bodies.


Adapted from The Seasons of the Italian Kitchen

Red Cabbage with Olives & Capers Recipe

Find cabbage at local Farmers Markets throughout the winter season.

Start with 4 – 5 cups thinly sliced cabbage of any kind/ Heat 1 ½ C of broth or water in a saucepan/ Sauté cabbage in 3 T olive oil with a small amount of salt and pepper for two or three minutes/ Sprinkle with ¼ C Apple Cider Vinegar (or whatever you have on hand), cover and cook on low heat for 5 minutes/ Add ½ C of the heated broth and cook with lid on until liquid is nearly absorbed/ Continue process of adding heated broth and letting cabbage simmer and absorb liquid a little at a time until tender, 20 – 30 minutes/ Finally, remove lid and cook until the cabbage is fairly dry and tender/ Add ¼ C chopped olives and 2 t capers/ Cook a few minutes longer and it’s ready to serve. (Go easy on the salt.  Olives and capers are salty and will diminish the need for additional salt.)

Enjoy these last moments with beloved Brassicas.  Their time as the life of our winter party is waning, which means that spring must be around the corner.

*Brassica vegetables are highly regarded for their nutritional value. They provide high amounts of vitamin C and soluble fiber and contain multiple nutrients with potent anti-cancer properties: 3,3′-Diindolylmethane, sulforaphane and selenium.
Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley have recently discovered that 3,3′-Diindolylmethane in Brassica vegetables is a potent modulator of the innate immune response system with potent anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-cancer activity.

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4 Responses »

  1. I picked up this recipe, and the book it is in, from Bob McNamara, who has cooked many fine Italian meals for me and our friends. It’s great to cook the cabbage while cooking a risotto because each use the addition of hot broth. Just heat one pot of broth, adding some to each dish as they cook. I understand the rice absorbing the broth, but there is something mysterious about the cabbage doing the same. And the end result- wow. A favorite.

  2. It seems like this is a week for cabbage for many in the local eating mode – a good thing for me, as I am on the hunt for more recipes. I like the idea of adding the apple flavor in there.

  3. My favorite cabbage recipe is from Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian. Cheap, easy, and mouthwateringly good.

    Cabbage Salad with Mustard Seeds
    6 well packed cups (1 lb or 0.5 kilo) shredded green cabbage
    1 medium carrot, peeled and coarsely grated
    1 to 2 hot green chiles, cut into fine shreds*
    1/5 tsp salt
    2 tbsp red wine vinegar
    0.25 tsp cayenne
    2 tbsp peanut or canola (rapeseed) oil
    1 tsp whole brown mustard seeds

    Combine cabbage, carrot, chiles, salt, vinegar, and cayenne in a large bowl and toss well to mix. Put the oil into a small frying pan and set over medium high heat. When hot, add the mustard seeds. As soon as the mustard seeds begin to pop (a matter of seconds), pour the oil and seeds over the salad. Toss well to mix. Set aside for one hour or longer, refrigerating if necessary.

    *I usually skip the chilies and add some more cayenne if I want more spice.


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