Red Cabbage and the Art of Seduction

Cabbage, I admit, is not usually seen as a sexy vegetable. What is so decidedly unromantic about cabbage? Maybe it is the fault of two common incarnations of cabbage on the American table: cole slaw and sauerkraut. Let’s examine these dishes, shall we?

Cole slaw can be subtle blend of salty, sweet, and tangy with earthy notes and bold crisp strands of purple. But usually, it’s just not. It’s an over-mayonnaised malaise or a harshly acidic vinegar fest. It’s limp, it’s dripping, and it languishes inside a flimsy paper cup as an afterthought to some meaty entree. And then it heads back into the kitchen.

Sauerkraut also suffers from ignoble preparation and service. Real sauerkraut, I am told, is not the heat-processed, jarred versions in supermarkets. The true stuff is still living, foaming, still fermenting version made at home. (Some day I’m going to try to do this–fermented food is quite healthy–but I haven’t yet summoned the nerve.) In any case, what happens to sauerkraut on the average American plate? It is served underneath or over top some kind of meat.

A vegetarian might wonder, does cabbage exist only as a sad topping or side dish to meat? But fear not, cabbage lack-loves, you too can enjoy cabbage in a starring, seductive role (even if it’s still a side dish).

This version, a riff on a Wolfgang Puck recipe, has cinnamon, clove, and ginger, warming spices which I think turn up the sexy in a dish. My variation is a bit on the sweet side, but not too tangy. The red cabbage has a beguiling color–purple that grows deeper and more sensual with cooking. Not only that, the coloring reflects its healthy phytonutrients. So serve this food to your beau, and let me know!

Sexy Red Cabbage

  • 2 TBS peanut or other cooking oil
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 5 TBS red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1 cup veggie broth
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1/2 tsp powdered ginger
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 head red cabbage, sliced
  • 1/2 TBS arrowroot or cornstarch
  1. Heat a large pot over medium high and add the oil. Saute the onion until translucent.
  2. Add the brown sugar and cook for about five more minutes until the sugar begins to caramelize.
  3. Deglaze the pan with the red wine vinegar. Then add cider, veggie broth, cinnamon stick, ginger powder, cloves, salt and pepper and simmer for five minutes.
  4. Add the red cabbage and stir to coat. Cover the pan and cook until the cabbage reaches the desired tenderness, stirring occasionally.


  1. I think cabbage is totally sexy — my husband, however, does not. He does think it’s sexy that while I make myself a big bowl of cabbage stew, I will also make him something he rarely gets to eat, like a nice cut of grilled fish, or a burger. Fair trade, I’d say!

  2. Your hubby is lucky! Mine has to fend for himself when he’s in the mood for meat or fish 🙂

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