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Growing up, I thought of cabbage in terms of cole slaw and not much else. Later I learned that it was also important for the sauerkraut I liked on my hot dogs and many of my favorite Chinese takeout dishes, but I still didn’t give cabbage a fair shake. I suppose I wasn’t alone, a child indifferent to cabbage, but I was a vegetable-loving kid, for the most part. As an adult, with maturing taste buds, I realized that cabbage was usually a budget-friendly choice, and subsequently that the amount needed for a few fish tacos barely dented even the tiniest head of cabbage. It was time to expand my repertoire. After discovering a variation of this dish in my Mom’s recipe file and playing with it over the years, I am happy to share my very favorite use for cabbage, the dish I could eat every night in October and November: sauteed cabbage with apples. It is fall on a plate.

Cabbage is in its prime right now, shiny and crunchy and exploding out of baskets at the farmers’ markets, piled high in the produce section. For this recipe, I like red cabbage because it is so lovely, but you can use green, Napa or even Savoy cabbage successfully. As for the apple, go for a sweeter variety here, since you’ll get plenty of pucker from the lemon juice. I like Pink Lady, Pazazz, Ginger Gold, Jazz or Golden Delicious– something with a crisp texture is nice. The combination of cabbage and apple is a classic accompaniment to pork chops or pork roast, goes nicely with soy-glazed salmon and (as you can see in the picture) is often served with roasted squash as a Meatless Monday dinner in our house. Quick to make, affordable and delicious: my sauteed cabbage may just elevate the humble vegetable to superstar status in your crisper drawer.

sauteed cabbage with apple

Sauteed Cabbage with Apples (serves 4-6 as a side dish)

  • 1 T. grapeseed or canola oil
  • 4 c. shredded cabbage
  • 1 medium apple, cored and cut into bite-sized pieces (no need to peel)
  • 2 – 4 tsp. fresh lemon juice*
  • 1 tsp. prepared horseradish
  • 1 T. butter
  • salt & pepper

In a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat until it begins to shimmer and add the cabbage. Toss the cabbage for 1-2 mins. until it begins to wilt and then sprinkle lightly with salt. Reduce the heat to medium low and cover; cook for 5-7 mins. until the cabbage starts to become tender. Add the apples to the pan and cook for an additional 5 mins., longer if the cabbage is still too crisp for your liking. Stir in the lemon juice, horseradish and butter and season with pepper; when the butter is melted, taste and adjust salt & pepper, if necessary. Serve immediately.

*I like this dish on the sour side, but it’s best to start with 2 tsp. lemon juice, taste, and add the additional 2 tsp. if you, too, like the pucker.