Easy Winter Recipe: Roasted Cabbage with Bacon

I have cooked cabbage in many different ways. I've chopped, shredded, steamed, boiled, and stir-fried it, but strangely, I have never roasted it. Not until last night, that is — and now I'm wondering why I waited so long! This is going head-to-head with braised Brussels sprouts as the most delicious thing I've eaten yet this year.
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I had a big head of cabbage that had been languishing in my kitchen for weeks, waiting to be used in soup or dumplings. I hadn't had the time or ingredients for either of those recipes, but the cabbage had been getting progressively more dry and crunchy so I decided it was time to use it up. I wanted something quick and easy, and I've been positively craving roasted Brussels sprouts lately, so I wondered if there was a way to treat the cabbage as one giant sprout and roast it in the oven.

Sara Kate roasted baby cabbages with honey and vinegar last year, but I had never tried to roast an entire full-grown head of cabbage. Would it even work? Or taste good?

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After a little research I decided to cut the cabbage into wedges and add some bacon that was nearing its own use-by date. I removed the dry and crunchy outer leaves, then chopped the cabbage into 8 chunky wedges. I discarded the core and laid the wedges down in a baking pan. They fit just right in my roasting pan.

I drizzled them with a little olive oil and sprinkled with kosher salt and fresh black pepper. Then I chopped about four slices of bacon into lardons and draped them over the cabbage and alongside it.

Then I slid the whole pan into the oven, preheated to 450°F. I roasted for about 30 minutes total, flipping the wedges over halfway through. It looked like a hot mess, but a very promising one.

The final result?

Wow!! The high-heat roasting gets rid of any cabbage funk and makes the cabbage sweet and flavorful — all that bacon grease certainly adds to the irresistible aroma. The bacon pieces were crispy and chewy, and the bacon fat seeped into the cabbage, making it tender and juicy in the middle and crispy and browned on the outside.

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The combination of tastes and textures was just fantastic. The outer leaves and edges of the cabbage were browned and crispy — I let some blacken at the tips, and they gave that burnt-marshmallow smokiness to each bite. The insides of the leaves, though, were silky and plump with concentrated juices, and shiny from the olive oil and bacon.

I served the cabbage in wedges, topped with crumbled bacon, on dishes of pasta, and we went at it with knife and fork. The cabbage was crunchy, chewy, soft, and juicy. The flavors of salt, olive oil, pepper and bacon married perfectly; it was really the most satisfying yet simple dinner I've had in a long time. In fact, just the cabbage on its own is very satisfying and filling. I had a leftover wedge for lunch — no pasta — and felt fully satisfied. It's delicious, and such a mix of textures and tastes.

Have you ever roasted cabbage? If you do, how do you like to make it? I basically described the recipe above, but here it is in proper format in case you want to have it in a more organized flow.

Roasted Cabbage with Bacon

serves 4

1 large head green cabbage, outer leaves removed
Olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 slices thick bacon

Heat the oven to 450°F. Cut the cabbage into quarters and slice the bottom of each quarter at an angle to remove the stem core. Cut each quarter in half again so you have eight wedges. Lay these down on a large roasting pan or baking sheet and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.

Cut each slice of bacon into small strips and lay on top of the cabbage.

Roast for 30 minutes, flipping the cabbage wedges once halfway through. If the edges aren't browned enough for your taste after 30 minutes, put them back in for five-minute increments until they are.

Serve immediately; the wedges cool down fast.

Note: When I make this again I may try a suggestion from these message boards and elevate the cabbage on a rack so that the moisture drips down and lets the cabbage brown more thoroughly.

Related: How To Roast Any Vegetable

(Images: Faith Durand)

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