If you are anything like me, when you hear the words “purple cabbage,” the first image that comes to your mind is coleslaw. Not the delicious, tangy, vinegary kind—no, the yucky kind they serve at chain restaurants. (Don’t look at me like that, mayonnaise. You know we are eternal foes.) Well last night I went through an enlightening transformation, and I hope you will, too. Because purple cabbage isn’t made to be sliced up real thin and mixed with mayo and left to wilt until brought out to your table in a tiny plastic cup. No, my friend. Purple cabbage is meant to be ROASTED!
Why roasted? I’m glad you asked. Because roasting brings out the natural flavors of said cabbage (surprisingly sweet and tender, as it turns out), is easy, and results in something that is aesthetically appealing. This recipe is simple enough that the family dog could do it (although, come to think of it, you probably shouldn’t teach Spot to use the oven if you leave him home alone while you’re at work), and results in something immensely enjoyable. I highly recommend it.
Note: it’s important to get QUALITY cabbage for this. The difference in cost between a cheap, probably-old-and-dried-out head of cabbage and a truly fresh organic head of cabbage is around $1. My estimated difference in quality of outcome for those two products is $8.
Note 2: There are about 10 spices in the mixture I used. Certainly not all of them are necessary, but I found the prominent smoky flavor and the spiciness really nice, so even if you toss out a few of them, make sure not to skimp on the cayenne and smoked paprika or chipotle.
Oven-roasted cabbage chunks
1 medium head organic purple cabbage (~2lbs)
3-5 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/3 tsp cayenne pepper (use less if you’re terrified of spicy foods—my recipe does have a bit of a kick)
ancho chili powder
garlic powder (just a dash or it will overpower the sweetness!)
ground cumin, roasted if you have it
Optional: fresh soft cheese (garnish)
Step 1: Preheat oven to 425F. WASH your cabbage. Slice in half down the middle, then cut each half into 5 or 6 big hunks. Place cut-side-up on a baking sheet.
Step 2: Drizzle with olive oil. Note that I said drizzle, not drown. You’re basically aiming to cover the cut edges of each chunk just enough that the spices will stick to it.
Step 3: Mix up all your spices. (If you got a mortar & pestle for Christmas like I did [Thanks, Mom and Dad!], use that. If not, a fork and small bowl are a perfectly good fallback.) You want to end up with at least a tablespoon of total stuff, so use whatever combination suits your fancy, but I recommend not oversalting it. Now comes the fun part: sprinkling! Spread your spice mixture evenly over the edges of the cabbage.
Step 4: Bake at 425 on the middle oven rack for about 45 minutes. Don’t worry if yer oil be audibly sizzlin’—it’s all part of the process. (Though you may want to turn your stove fan on when you open the oven door.) Check every five minutes or so after 30 minutes to make sure you don’t overcrisp them. It’s done when the cut edges and the outer leaf of each hunk brown and get crispy.
Serve warm, and make a mental note to thank me later when your family & friends gush about a newfound love of cabbage. I haven’t tried it, but I think a dab of goat cheese or mascarpone would be a delicious accompaniment to this dish.
A regular serving would probably be two pieces. Once you realize you love cabbage, though, you can dial it up to three. I won’t tell anyone. If that’s not exciting enough for you, it could also be served as a side dish to a delicately flavored soup, making it look even more appealing, a la Craig’s version:
Either way, enjoy your time with your cabbage, and remember: don’t fight with your loved ones over the last piece! There are plenty of cabbages left in the world.