Cabbage Tips and Tricks
What can I do with a lot of cabbage? Have you ever bought a head of cabbage because it’s SO much cheaper than buying the bag of already shredded cabbage? Yeah, me too. But what do you DO with that much cabbage? This is a great recipe to use up a quarter or a half of a green cabbage.
How do you buy cabbage? At the grocery store or market, look for a head of cabbage that has tight leaves, that looks fresh and has very few loose leaves. It should feel heavy for its size and be a nice green color. It should feel firm with no soft spots. For this recipe I recommend a medium head of cabbage, about two pounds.
How do you store fresh cabbage? One of my favorite things about cabbage is how long you can store it. Make sure to leave all the outer leaves on the head of cabbage until you’re ready to cook it. Do not wash the cabbage until you’re ready to cook it as that can promote rot. If it isn’t cut, you can store cabbage in the crisper drawer uncovered. If it is cut, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and store in the crisper drawer in the fridge. I don’t love using plastic wrap, but this is really the best thing to keep the most air out the longest. It can last in the fridge for three weeks and up to eight weeks if stored properly.
Tips and Tricks
What do you serve with this recipe? I like to eat this recipe with hearty pieces of bread as a meal. This is a hearty enough meal to be eaten by itself. However, it would also be a great side dish to any rich protein like a roasted chicken or big steak dinner. The spicy braise will complement any big protein really well.
Do you have to use a cast iron skillet? If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, you can cook this in a stainless steel pan that’s oven safe. Another option is to use a stove safe skillet and then transfer the cabbage and sauce to an oven safe baking dish. Make sure that the dish isn’t too big or there won’t be enough liquid to braise the cabbage. Without enough braising liquid, the cabbage won’t be as flavorful or tender.
How do you store leftovers? Once this is cooked, you can store the cabbage, chickpeas and sauce all together in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days. Be sure to store the bread separately on the counter in an airtight container.
Is this fishy from the anchovies? No! You’d never know there were anchovies in this dish. Unless you’re allergic, give it a try. They dissolve very well into the sauce and give the braising liquid a great umami or savory boost. Cabbage is very bland on it’s own, so I tried to really add a lot of flavor to the braising liquid.
How do you reheat leftovers? Reheat leftovers in the microwave until warmed through or on the stove top until warmed through over medium low heat. Leftovers are even better the next day as the cabbage has absorbed even more flavor.
Can I leave out the anchovies? The anchovies are there for added flavor but if you’re looking for a substitute, I’d recommend adding some extra flavor like miso paste or mushroom powder to make sure there is plenty of umami flavor.
What’s the best type of bread to use? The best type of bread to use is a hearty multigrain bread or crusty sourdough bread. These breads will stand up to the flavor and not melt into the sauce when you dip it.
What is double concentrated tomato paste? This type of tomato paste has even more tomatoey flavor than traditional tomato paste. It typically comes in a tube in the Italian section of the grocery store, not in a can that is traditionally used in a pasta or pizza sauce. This recipe calls for about half a four oz tube of tomato paste.
Where do you find gochujang? You can (hopefully) find gochujang in the Asian section of your local grocery store. It is a Korean fermented chile paste that adds a lot of flavor, funk and a little heat to your dish. Gochujang can also be found online. That is a fairly big container but it will last in the fridge for a long time and if you like spicy and funky condiments, you’ll probably like it.
How do you make spicy tomato braised cabbage?
Searing the Cabbage
Start by preheating your oven to 350F as well as a 10-12 inch cast iron skillet on the stove over medium heat. Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage and slice down the middle through the core. Store half of the cabbage in the fridge for another use. Cut the remaining half into quarters, removing the core if desired. Once the pan is hot, rub canola oil onto the cabbage and season well with salt. Add enough canola oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Place all four cabbage pieces into the skillet, making sure there is a sizzle. Allow to cook for three to four minutes on each cut side until browned. Be sure to add more oil as necessary to keep the bottom coated. Repeat until all three cut sides are browned and remove all cabbage to a plate.
While cooking the cabbage, rinse off anchovies and set aside. Next combine tomato paste, garlic, gochujang, coriander and cumin in a small bowl and set aside. If necessary, add more canola oil to coat the bottom of the pan and add the tomato paste mixture. There should be a sizzle and then continuously stir for two minutes while it reduces. Next, add the rinsed anchovies and allow them to dissolve into the sauce. Cook for another minute until the sauce has darkened in color and reduced. Carefully, add about two cups of water to the pan and dissolve the paste. Bring the sauce to a simmer and gently nestle in the cabbage including any pieces that have fallen off.
Braising the Cabbage
Place the entire skillet into the oven on a middle rack for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, flip the cabbage pieces and cook for another 30 minutes. The cabbage should be tender and well coated in the sauce. After 60 minutes of total cooking, add in a rinse can of chickpeas and toss to coat in the sauce. Cook for another 5-10 minutes in the oven until chickpeas are heated through.
Remove from the oven and season with salt to taste. Serve with hearty bread and garnish with fresh chopped parsley. Be sure to add plenty of cabbage, chickpeas and sauce to each plate.
Inspired by this Bon Appetit recipe.
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Spicy Tomato Braised Cabbage with Chickpeas
- ½ head medium green cabbage
- Canola oil
- Kosher salt to taste
- ¼ cup of double concentrated tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon garlic paste or 3 cloves grated
- 1 ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- 2-3 tablespoons gochujang paste
- 2 oz anchovies rinsed
- 2 cups water
- 1 can chickpeas rinsed
- 2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- ½ loaf hearty or crusty bread for dipping
- Preheat your oven to 350 F. Preheat a 10-12 in cast iron skillet over medium heat.
- While everything is preheating, remove all the tough outer leaves from your cabbage. Rinse well and pat dry. Remove about ¼ inch of the core on the bottom. Cut the cabbage head in half through the core. Wrap unused half in plastic wrap and store in the fridge.
- Cut the remaining half into quarters so you have 4 equal sized pieces.
- Once your pan is preheated, rub canola oil over the cabbage and season well with kosher salt.
- Coat the bottom of the pan well with canola oil and add each piece of cabbage so they are cut side down and sizzle when added to the pan. If they do not sizzle, remove and allow your pan and oil to heat longer. Cook for 3-4 minutes on each cut side until browned. Repeat with all 3 cut sides of the cabbage so they are all browned. Keep an eye on the oil level and make sure there is always enough to cover the bottom of the pan, adding more as necessary.
- While the cabbage is browning, in a bowl combine the tomato paste, garlic, coriander, cumin and gochujang. Stir well to combine and set aside.
- Rinse anchovies in a small bowl of water to remove most of the oil and some of the salt, set aside.
- Once the cabbage pieces are browned on the 3 cut sides, remove them from the pan and place on a plate. Be careful moving the cabbage with tongs because the leaves will have loosened up. If any leaves fall off, just add them to the plate.
- If there isn’t any more oil in the pan, add enough to lightly coat the bottom of the pan. Add in the tomato paste mixture and continue to stir while it sizzles. Stir continuously while the tomato paste reduces for about 2 minutes.
- Add in the anchovies and swirl in the pan until they dissolve into the tomato paste. Continue to stir and reduce for 1 more minute until the anchovies have dissolved and the tomato paste has darkened in color.
- Add in 2 cups of water and stir to deglaze the pan. Continue to stir and dissolve the tomato paste in the water. Allow the liquid to come to a simmer and then gently add in the 4 pieces of cabbage. The water should come about halfway up the side of the pan. If you’re using a bigger skillet, you may need to add a little more water.
- Place the cast iron skillet in the oven and allow the cabbage to cook uncovered for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, flip the cabbage gently so the other half of each piece is covered in the braising liquid. Cook for another 30 minutes.
- While the cabbage is cooking, rinse a can of chickpeas, drain and set aside. After 60 total minutes of cooking in the oven, add the chickpeas to the pan and stir gently to coat the chickpeas in the sauce. Place back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes until chickpeas are warmed through.
- Remove from the oven and season with salt to taste. It may not need a lot of salt because of the anchovies and gochujang. Serve with hearty bread and garnish with chopped parsley.
- A medium cabbage is about 2 lbs so this recipe uses about 1 lb of cabbage.
- Double concentrated tomato paste is usually found in a tube in the same aisle as the can.
- Gochujang can be found in the Asian section of your local grocery store or online.
- Gochujang is spicy, if you’re worried, only add 2 tablespoons. If you’re into spice, add 3 tablespoons.
- Sometimes the cabbage quarters will fall apart when searing, that’s fine, just continue with the braising steps.
- Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 4 days. Store bread separate from cabbage and braising liquid.
Originally published May 26, 2020. Republished with clarity and updated information on October 2, 2020.