Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Roasted Napa Cabbage

I may have mentioned, on between one and sixty-three previous occasions, that roasting one's vegetables is almost always a brilliant idea. You might wonder whether the same thing holds for Napa cabbage, since it seems like it might be a little too limp and lettucey to roast properly. Let me be very clear about this: NOT roasting your Napa cabbage, while technically possible, would be an act of culinary irresponsibility. You owe it to yourself and the world of food to put it in a 400 degree oven. Seriously.

Of course, it's summer, so you may be delicately wondering whether I've gone completely insane to suggest roasting something, and if it were yesterday or tomorrow I would agree with you. But it is today, and today was a balmy and bewildering 68 degrees in Sacramento, and it was raining. (Sacramento is the place where you can go a whole summer without seeing a single cloud. This is not normal.)

So, in celebration of global warming or Armageddon or whatever's going on out there, we roasted us some cabbage. It was delicious.

Napa cabbage, sliced crosswise about 3 times into wide strips, washed, and dried
Olive oil
Freshly ground white pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Toss the cabbage with a bit of olive oil and arrange on a baking sheet about two layers thick. Roast in the oven for 8-10 minutes, turning halfway through, until some of the leaves start to turn golden brown in spots.

Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and a dusting of white pepper, and serve. Pairs particularly well with quinoa.


  1. Does the roasting take away the usual bitterness of cabbage? I have just recently started roasting veggies, and am adicted to roasted winter squash, but would love to be able to incorporate more veggies into my diet, which I don't have a large selection of right now because I find so many of them to be bitter. If roasting will take that away though, I'm going to be darn excited... by the way, there is no such thing as too hot, so cranking the oven any time of year is a go for me!! But then, I live in BC, where it is always cold... summer is usually barely warm.

  2. I haven't noticed a bitterness to the Napa cabbage we get, but in general, roasting veggies with olive oil does make them sweeter. (There are a bunch of recipe ideas for different roasted vegetables on here...to find them, just type "roasted" into the ingredient search on the right toward the top of the page.) The other thing to try is looking out for younger rather than older veggies...baby kale, baby spinach, younger carrots, and most other veggies that are picked younger and smaller will tend to be sweeter.

  3. Do you think it would be possible to roast without using any oil?

  4. Hmm...it's the fat in the oil that makes the vegetables caramelize, so that they get golden brown and sweet. You don't have to use a lot of oil -- just enough to lightly coat your veggies -- but I don't think you'd want to skip that step.

    1. I kinda thought so, I have tried roasting both cauliflower and beets without any oil, but no yummy caramelization... However, whenever I roast winter squash (which is VERY often) I simply cut the squash in half, place cut side down in a baking dish with a little water, and it gets nice and caramelized... so I dunno why it doesn't seem to work with other veggies.

    2. Good point...I wonder if it's because squash has a higher sugar content or something like that.

  5. That's what I think. Well, I did read in a book that you can make a water/oil spray by mixing 7 parts water and 1 part oil in a spray bottle, and use that as a cooking spray... I will have to experiment and see how that works.