Tassajara Warm Red Cabbage Salad

Tassajara Warm Red Cabbage Salad Recipe

The other day one of my neighbors asked me how often I cook. I think he was curious to know if I cook everyday. But, now that I think of it, I'm not actually sure what he was asking me - maybe there was a subtext to the question? I'm not sure. Anyhow, I told him I cook most days, and most of the meals most days. While this might have kicked off visions of elaborate brunch buffets, or of me standing over simmering pots of risotto stirring for hours on end, actually, it usually means I'm doing something simple like reheating a leftover pot of soup for lunch. Or pouring some muesli from a jar into a bowl of yogurt. Other times it does mean starting from scratch, pulling together a quick everyday favorite.

Warm Cabbage Salad

But(!) at least a few times a week I like to try something completely new, something I've never tried before. Sometimes it's my own idea, other times the recipe comes from elsewhere. For example, I came across a Warm Red Cabbage Salad with Dried Fruit and Feta in the new Complete Tassajara Cookbook I bought a few weeks back. I liked the idea of a warm winter salad - sweet and salty, rich with color, texture, and flavor. I was excited to give it a go.

Warm Cabbage Salad

I used the recipe as a jumping off point, tweaking it to my preferences. I cooked the cabbage uncovered, and for less time than the recipe called for (to retain a bit of structure), used considerably smaller amounts of cheese and fruit, and generally trusted my own instincts and tastes along the way. You can use my version of it as your own jumping off point, and play around with it to suit your tastes as well.

Some things I thought about along the way - I used golden raisins, but I imagine any number of dried fruits would work nicely. A few toasted walnuts or hazelnuts tossed in the pan at the last minute might be a welcome way to up the crunch factor. A bit of cabbage used to top off a bowl of risotto or polenta might be striking. Or as a filling for a piadine. Or how about using it as the finishing touch on a savory spinach tart? A recipe like this one can launch me in a hundred different directions.

Warm Cabbage Salad

So, when I think about how often I cook, I naturally think about why I rarely get tired of cooking. And I think it's because I find the task endlessly challenging and continually inspiring. A bit of a rhythm has emerged through it all - it goes something like this: old, new, me, you. Meaning - I cook an old favorite one night, next I might explore a technique or region that is entirely new to me, then maybe I'll try out an idea of my own, and then a recipe I've learned about in a book, magazine, website, or from a friend - like this one.

And I have to say, it's rhythm that works for me. Despite the hours I spend cooking, I still enjoy pulling my apron over my head, tying the knot behind my back, turning the knob on the stove and hearing the whoosh of the flame catch on the gas burner...

Tassajara Warm Red Cabbage Salad

I've incorporated all my changes into this version the recipe, originally adapted from The Complete Tassajara Cookbook. This version is less cheesy, fruity, and rich - but feel free to experiment with the components in this salad until it is to your liking.

1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1 teaspoon natural cane sugar (or brown sugar)
fine grain sea salt

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 red onion, diced
3 medium cloves garlic, minced

1 pound head of red cabbage or radicchio, quartered and cut into thin ribbons

1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
2 ounces golden raisins (or other plump, chopped dried fruit)
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

a bit of freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to garnish

Roast the sunflower seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat until golden brown. Sprinkle on the sugar, and a couple pinches of salt. Stir until the sugar melts and coats the seeds (you pan will need to be hot enough). Transfer the seeds immediately to a plate so they don't stick to the pan. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and saute the onion for a minutes or two with a couple pinches of salt. Stir in the garlic, and the cabbage, and a few more pinches of salt. Stir and cook for just a minute or so, or until the cabbage softens up just a touch. Then stir in the rosemary, most of the raisins, and the vinegar. The cabbage will continue to get more and more tender even after you remove it from the heat, so keep that in mind, and do your best to avoid overcooking it - where it collapses entirely. Fold in half of the feta cheese, most of the sunflower seeds, then taste. Season with more salt if needed. Serve garnished with the remaining raisins, feta, sunflower seeds and Parmesan cheese.

Serves 4 to 6.

This recipe was adapted from The Complete Tassajara Cookbook by Edward Espe Brown. Published by Shambhala (September 8, 2009)

Prep time: 10 minutes - Cook time: 10 minutes

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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Comments

  • I never tire of cooking either. Washing the dishes...now that's a different story! I love the idea of the salad, and as with most of your recipes it really has room for improvisation. Love it!

    Michelle @ Find Your Balance
  • I make something very similar to this quite often, though I usually use pinyon nuts and don't add cheese or sugar. I find the balsamic vinegar adds enough sweetness for me. I'll have to try it with sunflower seeds sometime. I also make it with swiss chard instead of cabbage, using the stems and leaves for crunch, and have substituted diced apples for raisins on occasion.

    S@sha
  • Looks so good - wonderful colour for an autumn salad. And I've really been craving salad as the days get colder...with hearty soups and crusty bread, of course.

    Mouse
  • I enjoy cabbage salads and I'm inspired to give this a try. Thanks!

    momgateway
  • i love warm salads with cabbage n this one with nuts will be a good healthy n hearty salad. i combine whole grains with it sometimes.. the picture looks great as always..

    sangeeta khanna
  • I love cooking old standbys and discovering nuances to play with within them... It's amazing how a standard can evolve into something so new, which in turn can evolve into something else. But I find that developing a relationship like that to my food really does require cooking often. By the way... LOVE the raisins.

    isabel
  • I love your comments about cooking. I get the same question, quite frequently. People just can't believe that I make (or even assemble) most of my meals at home. Aside from the pleasure I get from the process, I can't imagine eating out or constantly eating convenience foods due to the cost and crummy ingredients!

    Beth at Pretty By the Bay
  • The recipe looks great, but even more I love hearing about your approach to cooking and recipes. Its good to be reminded to try new recipes often! And the loose approach of a recipe as a guideline is one I most often take since I can't always go out and buy the exact ingredients. Thanks for sharing your approach!

    Anna
  • That has to be one of the most gorgeous salads I have ever seen. The colors are positively jewel-like... Food should always be a feast for the eyes and the palate. This dish qualifies on the former level, and I can't wait to pull some cabbage from the garden to find out about the the latter. -Michaela

    The Gardener's Eden
  • I can totally relate to the rhythm discussion - and interestingly, one's rhythm in the kitchen changes over the years. My rhythm used to be something like old, kids, adult dinner with hubby, entertaining friends - now my rhythm includes recipes created for teaching kids, healthy cooking classes for OFL, creating recipes on my own, and yes, still old favorites!

    Cooking with Michele
  • What or who is Tassajara? -Thanks.

    jennifer
  • I have been scowering the bloggesphere for ideas on how to use up my red cabbage and all i had to do was drop by one of my favourites! thanks!

    anna
  • This looks amazing. I love cabbage and feta cheese.

    Angela
  • I LOVE red cabbage in salads, try to make every single one I see, and yours will be at our table soon for sure such nice color...

    SallyBR
  • This reminds me of something my grandma would make that I haven't had in years - thanks for the memories and great ideas!

    Simply Life
  • I like how you talk about barely ever getting tired of cooking. I think that's something that applies to lots of us, yet we rarely actually stop to think about it. In cooking, there is always so much to learn.

    Kylie of Thin Crust, Deep Dish
  • This looks fantastic, as always! And I agree - it helps to try out new things one night and stick to the tried and true things other nights, makes cooking more interesting that way!

    Tabitha (From Single to Married)
  • This recipe is wonderful. I understand what you mean about the rhythm of cooking--it's sort of like that for me too. Your photos are gorgeous and your site inspiring. I can't wait to read more!

    S.
  • This is a great sounding recipe, and I love the reflections on cooking. I often seem to end up with surplus red cabbage that I'm sick of eating both warm and cooked - this seems the happy medium. It's also a nice variation from the one cooked cabbage salad I do make - a long-marinated, sweet-and-sour cabbage salad. Thanks for sharing!

    small kitch cara
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