Braised Cabbage


This time of year should be all about fava tips, and english pea soup, and tender leeks with vinaigrette. But right now I am all about cabbages. Yes we are done and over with winter vegetables, ready and waiting for the first local strawberries to arrive and dreaming of June when we can gorge ourselves on cherries by the pound. But I feel like we are just getting a bit of our winter, it does say it will finally rain again this weekend, and the humble cabbage never seems to get it’s due. But some may argue, is it ever the right time to praise a cabbage?

I love to prove a vegetable naysayer wrong, and none was so pleasing as last week when I announced I’d make some braised cabbage to go along with the spaghetti and meatballs I had going on the stove. Eyes rolled and I sensed the energy escaping the room. So, I grabbed my cookbook, turned on my heels with a sense of attitude and went to blow expectations out of the water – so much so that thirds were eaten and I watched my next day’s lunch disappear.
You can grow cabbages in San Francisco - they love our cool climate, much like the rest of their brassica family. They will love some lime amendment in the soil and tons of compost/veggie food, but if you’ve ever seen a full size cabbage you will be amazed at the amount of real estate it takes up.  In a space-tight city such as San Francisco, you may not be able to spare the space to grow a huge plant that will yield just one cabbage after months in the ground. In May we’ll offer a class that addresses this exact issue but for now I leave the cabbage growing up to my local farms, although growing one to full size is triumphant indeed!
Braised Cabbage
The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters 

  • 1 medium savoy cabbage (I think green would be fine here too)
  • 2 Tbps. Olive oil
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced small
  • 1 yellow onion, diced small
  • 1 celery stalk, diced small
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. fresh (or dried) thyme
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • ½ cup white wine
  • ½ cup broth or water
  • salt & pepper
  • dash of vinegar 

Cut the cabbage in half, and then again into quarters. Remove the firm core and then slice the quarters into thick slices. Put the cabbage in a bowl and sprinkle with some salt and pepper.  Toss well and set aside.
In a heavy bottom pan/pot, heat the olive oil on medium heat, and add the onion, carrot and celery.  Cook until soft (about 7 min). Add bay leaf, thyme, garlic and about a ½ teaspoon of salt (you can always salt more later!). Cook for about another minute (until the garlic is fragrant) and add cabbage, along with the wine. Cover and cook until the wine is gone (about 8 min)
Add broth or water, bring up to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook until tender (about 15 min) but perhaps a little longer. Season with salt to taste and add a dash (1 tsp.?) of mild vinegar. The vinegar and salt brighten the dish, so if it is lacking in depth, add more of those ingredients. Remove bay leaf and serve!