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Balsamic-Braised Red Cabbage

Balsamic vinegar’s honeyed, mildly tart quality stands in for harsher red wine vinegar in this new twist on a classic recipe. Green apples lend both sweetness and brightness, red wine adds depth and a sprinkle of orange zest contributes freshness to this hearty side dish.

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 Tbs. honey
  • 1 tart green apple such as Granny Smith, halved, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup dry red wine such as Merlot
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 red cabbage, about 2 lb., cored and cut into thin shreds
  • 1 orange

Directions:

In a large fry pan over medium heat, warm the oil. When the oil is hot, add the onion and a pinch of salt and sauté until the onion is soft and translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the honey and cook for 1 minute more.

Add the apple slices and vinegar, raise the heat to medium-high and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring the liquid to a boil, then add the wine and water. Season with a generous pinch each of salt and pepper and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the liquid begins to reduce, about 10 minutes.

Add the cabbage and, using tongs, toss well to coat with the liquid in the pan. Cover the pan and cook the cabbage, stirring occasionally, until it begins to wilt, 25 to 30 minutes. Uncover and cook until the cabbage is tender and most of the liquid has evaporated, 25 to 30 minutes more.

Taste and adjust the seasonings. Remove the pan from the heat and finely grate the zest from the orange over the cabbage (reserve the fruit for another use). Stir well to evenly distribute the zest, then transfer the cabbage to a warmed bowl and serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma New Flavors for Vegetables, by Jodi Liano (Oxmoor House, 2008).