Cider-Braised Red Cabbage with Pears and Caraway

One of my favourite dishes, nothing can be simpler. If you don’t have pears on hand, don’t worry—it’s just as good without, or use apples instead. This dish tastes better as it sits, so making it a day in advance will up the flavor and save you day-of preparation.

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Cider-Braised Red Cabbage with Pears and Caraway

 2 tablespoons (30mL) extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon (15mL) caraway seeds
1 medium head red cabbage, chopped (about 4 pounds/1.8kg)
1 1/2 cups (360mL) apple cider
3 Bartlett pears, chopped (ripe, but not overripe)
2 tablespoons (30mL) apple cider vinegar
Sea or Himalayan salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Put the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the caraway seeds and cook, toasting for 1 minute. Add the onion and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cabbage, working with portions at a time, until all of it is in the saucepan.

Add the apple cider, bring to a boil, then reduce and cook at a simmer for 30 minutes, until the cabbage is tender. Stir in the pears and return to medium-high heat, cooking until the liquid has nearly absorbed, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in the cider vinegar, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.

Deli-Style Coleslaw

A bit of sweet, a bit of tang, a bit of creaminess, and a lot of flavor. This coleslaw is the perfect canvas for adding in your favourite ingredients. Try sunflower seeds and dried cherries for an alternative to the pecans and raisins. And take the time to grate your own cabbage—it tastes much better than the pre-bagged versions. I love Mutsu apples in here, but I know they aren’t available everywhere, so I made some more common suggestions below.

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Deli-Style Coleslaw

1 cabbage, about 6 inches in diameter
2 medium carrots
1 red apple (such as Fuji)
1 green tart apple (such as Granny Smith)
4 green onions (just the greens)
1/2 heaping cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup raisins
1 large avocado
Juice from 1/2 a large lemon
Sea salt to taste
3 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Fresh ground black pepper to taste

Using a box grater, mandoline, or the shredder on a food processor, shred the cabbage, carrots, and apples. Toss together in a large bowl. Finely chop the greens of the onions. Add them to the cabbage, along with the pecans and raisins. Toss to mix.

Put the avocado, the lemon juice, a pinch of salt in a food processor. Turn on and process until smooth. With the motor running, add the olive oil, starting with 3 tablespoons, adding an additional tablespoon for a thinner consistency (depending on the size of your avocado). Add the vinegar. Stir to mix, adding additional salt and lots of ground black pepper to taste. Mix with the cabbage mixture, letting the flavours sit for at least a couple hours before serving.

Roasted Cabbage with Cider Simmered Leeks

Roasting the cabbage brings out its inherent sweetness, rounded out by a hint of smokiness coming from the crusty edges. The leek mixture is simmered in apple cider; a perfect complement that you’ll want to use it in your repertoire again and again for its delicious flavor.

Roasted Cabbage with Cider Simmered Leeks

1 medium head cabbage
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Sea salt
Fresh ground black pepper
3 leeks, thinly sliced (just the whites and about half of the greens), and well-washed
2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup apple cider
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme

Preheat the oven to 450F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Remove the tough outer leaves of the cabbage. Cut into wedges about 1 to 1 1/4 inches thick, cutting out the core when necessary. Arrange on the baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons  of the oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for about 30 minutes until brown and crispy, then flip and bake an additional 20 to 30 minutes until cabbage is tender and crispy on the edges.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoon of the olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add the leeks and carrots. Cook until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the apple cider and thyme. Bring to a boil, then reduce and let simmer for about 20 minutes. Remove the lid and continue to cook until the cider has thickened and nearly absorbed, about 10 minutes longer.

When the cabbage is finished roasting, transfer it to a serving dish. Top with the leeks and carrots. Let stand about 20 minutes before serving for the leek mixture to meld into the cabbage. Serve warm.