As a child, I’m pretty sure I never uttered the words, “Yum, cabbage for dinner!” Yet I’ve actually heard similar words when serving this wholesome, budget-friendly vegetable in the following way.
For many years, I’d use cabbage as a supporting player in various recipes, frequently ending up with half a head that lingered in my crisper drawer a little too long. When a friend suggested roasting it, I did a double take. As often as I had roasted veggies, it never occurred to me to do it with this cold weather standby.
If you’re a fan of roasted Brussels sprouts, chances are good you’ll enjoy this recipe, too. The high heat of the oven sweetens and caramelizes the cabbage, and the thickly cut wedges soften yet retain a hint of firmness in the center. The edges become crispy, and a few charred specks offer flavor reminiscent of the grill. As the bacon cooks, it further flavors the cabbage and adds a smoky note of its own.
If that description isn’t enough to woo you, consider that a U.S. Department of Agriculture report ranked cabbage as the second most economical vegetable in terms of price per edible cup. (Potatoes were slightly less expensive.)
Additionally, cabbage has a mere 33 calories per cup, is low in fat, high in fiber, and is an excellent source of a long list of nutrients including vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin B6, manganese, and potassium. Studies have even linked this cruciferous vegetable to cancer prevention, brain and eye health, and reduced inflammation, among other health benefits.
While bacon doesn’t bolster the nutritional profile, a small amount does enhance the flavor and adds definite appeal to those who eat their veggies grudgingly. A thicker cut of bacon works better in order to avoid burning in the high heat of the oven. Center-cut bacon will also provide more of the meaty bacon and less of the fatty part. In fact, center cut bacon has approximately 30% less fat than standard bacon. Bacon, in general, comes from the belly of the pig. Center-cut bacon, however, is cut closer to the bone.
Those who prefer a vegetarian option may wish to try a light sprinkle of smoked paprika for complementary flavor.
Yield: 8 wedges (4-8 servings, depending on appetite and size of cabbage used)
- 1 head green cabbage, outer leaves removed*
- Olive or avocado oil**
- Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4-6 slices thick-cut bacon***
Heat the oven to 450 degrees F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly greased foil.
Cut the cabbage into quarters from top to stem end, and then slice the bottom of each quarter at an angle to remove the stem. Leave most of the core, as it will help to keep the wedges in tact. (The core will also soften when roasted and taste great.) Cut each quarter in half (top to stem end again) so you have eight equal wedges.
Place the wedges on the prepared baking sheet. Brush or spray both sides lightly with the oil, and then sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.
Cut each slice of bacon into strips and drape over the cabbage wedges. (For more bang for the buck, I cut the bacon in half and then slice those pieces in half again, only lengthwise this time, to produce four narrow strips.)
Roast the bacon-covered wedges for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and carefully flip the wedges.****
Return to the oven, and cook for 10-15 minutes more or until the cabbage is tender, the edges are a little crispy, and the bacon is cooked. If after 30 minutes of cooking the edges are not browned enough to suit your taste, continue cooking in 5-minute increments until the wedges are cooked to your liking. Serve immediately.
Store any leftovers, covered, in the refrigerator and gently reheat before eating.
- *I like to use a 2- to 3-pound cabbage, but any size may be used. I’ve used red cabbage, and it tastes equally delicious. It simply discolors a little more.
- **Because of its high smoke point, avocado oil is an especially good choice when cooking at high heats. For those who haven’t tried, its flavor is quite mild with just a hint of nuttiness. I use it interchangeably with olive oil.
- ***A thicker cut of bacon works better in order to avoid burning in the high heat of the oven.
- **** I find it easiest to place the bacon to the side while I flip the wedges. Then I reposition the bacon on top of the wedges. If using thinner-cut bacon and it looks nearly cooked, remove it to a plate, and add back to the cabbage during the final minutes of cooking.