Tassajara Warm Red Cabbage Salad

Inspired by a recipe in The Complete Tassajara Cookbook, a warm winter salad made from sautéed shredded red cabbage. Feta, balsamic vinegar and golden raisins make it sweet and salty, rich with color, texture and flavor.

Tassajara Warm Red Cabbage Salad

The other day a neighbor asked me how often I cook. I think he was curious to know if I cook everyday. 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 for hours on end, 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 before adding a kiss of something special. But that's not how I ended up making this magnificent cabbage salad.
Skillet full of red cabbage

A few times a week I cook something completely new. Sometimes it's my own idea, other times the recipe comes from elsewhere. That's how we ended up here. I came across a Warm Red Cabbage Salad with Dried Fruit and Feta in the 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 and was excited to give it a try.

Red Cabbage Salad on a Platter

Warm Red Cabbage Salad: The Concept

This salad is has a number of components. You start by making some sugar-crusted sunflower seeds for crunch. Beyond that, it's basically a skillet saute with a short list of components that sing together - rosemary, garlic, vinegar cheese and dried fruit. It's so good.

It's Also Super Adaptable

I used the Tassajara recipe as a jumping off point, tweaking it to my preferences. Cooking the cabbage uncovered, and for less time than the recipe called for, retains a bit of structure. I also 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 then play around with it to suit your tastes as well.
Skillet full of red cabbage

Substitution Ideas

Some things I thought about along the way - I used golden raisins here, but I imagine any number of dried fruits would work nicely - dates, dried figs or persimmons. A few toasted walnuts or hazelnuts tossed in the pan at the last minute might be a welcome way to up the crunch factor. There can never be too much crunch.
Toasted Sunflower Seeds

Tassajara Cabbage Salad: Serving Ideas

This salad is great as a stand-alone. It's also perfect on top of a bowl of risotto or polenta. I've put a bit on a slice of hot nettle pizza before. And it's nice as a filling for a piadine along with some extra cheese. You might think about using it as the finishing touch on a savory spinach tart or mix it into a quiche filling (after letting it cool). A recipe like this one can launch you in many different directions so have fun with it. There are a lot of ideas on the comments & some make a meal of it by adding a poached egg on top. Perfect.
Close-up of red cabbage sliced into wedges

So, discovering recipes like this is part of the magic for me. When I think about how often I cook, I naturally think about why I rarely get tired of cooking. It's because I find the task endlessly challenging and continually inspiring. 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.

More Cabbage Recipes

Cabbage is a forever favorite ingredient to cook with. It lasts longer than you'd believe in the refrigerator and plays nice with others. it's equally at home in dumpling fillings, salads, slaws, soups and stir-fries. If you're looking for more inspiration, browse the cabbage recipes and pay particular attention to these favorites: red pozole, spicy sesame coleslaw and vegan fish tacos.

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Tassajara Warm Red Cabbage Salad

4.8 from 5 votes

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. You can also add a bit of radicchio here (or do a radicchio version), but it is quite a bit more bitter. So just keep that in mind. xx!

Ingredients
  • 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, 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
Instructions
  1. 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.
  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. Serve garnished with the remaining raisins, feta, sunflower seeds and Parmesan cheese.

Notes

Serves 4 to 6

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

Serves
6
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
 
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Comments

I thought this was amazingly delicious! Sweet, salty, a bit sour, and very well balanced. I will definitely make this again.

Alison

    So happy to hear you liked it Alison!

    Heidi Swanson

This was so good and I plan to make this again. I have a question concerning the annual membership for obtaining recipes- am I able to try it for one year and make my decision for the following year? Would you please contact me via email? thank you.

Mahnaz

    Hi Mahnaz! You can cancel at any time. I'll drop you a note.

    Heidi Swanson

Dear Heidi, My mother is an amazing cook and I grew up eating delicious, healthy food, but I've never been very interested in cooking, myself. I always thought my mom had magic powers or something that was just unattainable for me. After a friend posted some of your recipees on her facebook page, I decided to give them a try. The pictures looked so inviting and I found myself craving these healthy veggie nutty dishes! Weird! I find your recipes really easy to follow and I enjoy your down-to-Earth commentary. So, even sans magic powers, I too can cook! I look forward to making this cabbage dish again tonight. I'm learning to play with the ingredients a little and trust myself to stray from the recipe. Thanks for the inspiration!

Laurie

It's a neat coincidence finding this recipe here. I just made a similar salad right before Thanksgiving. I got the recipe from two health-minded friends (who gave away a recipe booklet as their wedding favor 2 years ago.) Their recipe was almost identical to the Tassajara one except it had fresh oregano and parsley instead of rosemary, no sugar or fruit, walnuts roasted in walnut oil, and goat cheese. I used crumbled blue cheese and only parsley in mine. It turned out amazing. Even my husband who hates cabbage loved this recipe.

Loreto

I made this tonight; it was great. I substituted 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds for the raisins, used dark brown sugar as the sweetener for the toasted sunflower seeds, and skipped the Parmesan. Thanks so much (and nice to eat something named for Tassajara).

Holly Given

I made this salad today after a quick trip to the farmer's market. It was absolutely delicious. So delicious in fact, that I ate it for both lunch and dinner!

BlissfulBite

Wow. Even with grocery-store bagged coleslaw mix (shredded cabbage), yellow onion, and chopped prunes, this was divine. Heidi, you are a goddess.

Annie

I tried your recipe and I absolutely loved it. I also sprinkled some pomegranate arils on top which complemented the dish nicely! I'm going to try it again with a poached egg like someone else recommended. Thanks so much for sharing!

Leana

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