Tassajara warm red cabbage salad with sunflower seeds and raisins

July 2, 2016 at 2:56 pm (101 cookbooks, A minus, Alma's faves, Cruciferous rich, Derek's faves, Monthly menu plan, Other, Quick weeknight recipe, Spring recipes, Winter recipes) ()

I’m trying to get more “purple” in, and wanted to use red cabbage, but never know what to do with it. I tried this Tassajara warm red cabbage recipe by way of 101cookbooks. Heidi says her version is less cheesy, less fruity, and less rich, but it still tasted plenty cheesy, fruity, and rich to us. Both Derek and I enjoyed it. Now that Alma is two, she likes it too. It’s a pretty sweet-tasting (and hence toddler-friendly) dish, due to the use of the raisins and balsamic vinegar, plus all the natural sugars in the cabbage and onions.


  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds (can be reduced, see note below)
  • 1 teaspoon natural cane sugar (or brown sugar)
  • fine grain sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound head of red cabbage or radicchio, quartered and cut into thin ribbons
  • 1 tsp. fresh rosemary, minced (I prefer 1.5 tsp.)
  • 2 ounces golden raisins (or other plump, chopped dried fruit)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (cheap vinegar works fine, but you might need a bit more)
  • 2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • a bit of freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to garnish (I omit this)


  1. Roast the sunflower seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat until golden brown. Sprinkle on the sugar, and a couple pinches of salt. Stir until the sugar melts and coats the seeds (your pan will need to be hot enough). Transfer the seeds immediately to a bowl so they don’t stick to the pan. Set aside.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large 12-inch skillet and saute the onion for a minute or two with a couple pinches of salt. Stir in the garlic, then the cabbage and a few more pinches of salt. Stir and cook for just a minute or so, or until the cabbage softens up just a touch. Then stir in the rosemary, most of the raisins, and the vinegar. The cabbage will continue to get more and more tender even after you remove it from the heat, so keep that in mind, and do your best to avoid overcooking it — you don’t want it to collapse entirely.
  3. Fold in half of the feta cheese, most of the sunflower seeds, then taste. Season with more salt if needed. Serve garnished with the remaining raisins, feta, sunflower seeds, and Parmesan cheese.

Serves 4 to 6.

My notes:

I made this a second time and we liked it even more than the first time. It’s definitely a good recipe to have on hand when you have leftover red cabbage.  I’d also like to try it with radicchio.

Both times I made this I didn’t use up all the sunflower seeds. The leftovers were tasty on other dishes, but I think the amount could definitely be reduced. Maybe 1/3 of a cup?

This recipe already has red cabbage and red onions, but for even more purple it may be fun to use prunes for the dried fruit. Or dried currants. Or a mix. An idea for next time.

The first time I made this Alma just picked out the raisins and feta and ignored the rest. I omitted the sunflower seeds from her dish as I wasn’t sure if they were a choking hazard. The second time I made the dish I cut up the cabbage into small pieces and I ground the sunflower seeds and sprinkled them on top of her cabbage. She seemed to enjoy the dish.

Update March 2017:

I just made this recipe again (Alma is 25 months old), and both Alma and Derek really liked it. Alma still picks out the raisins and any large pieces of feta, but then she eats the rest. I didn’t grind her sunflower seeds up — I even let her sprinkle them on herself, which she likes.

I served the cabbage with brown rice, leftover lentils de puy, and leftover chickpeas. They both went well with the cabbage, and they added some nice textural variety. Derek even said that next time I could mix a little of one or both beans into the cabbage. I might try that next time, although I worry about Alma refusing it if it’s too “mixed.”  In any case, I will definitely serve it with some lentils/beans (or maybe with a lentil soup or dal), since the recipe itself is a bit low in protein.

This time I multiplied the recipe by 1.5 and it worked. I used up exactly one small head of red cabbage, and everything still fit in my 12-inch-skillet. I did have to be very careful when stirring though, as the cabbage filled the pan. I added 1/4 (or was it 1/2??) teaspoon salt, which seemed about right, and 1.5 tsp. rosemary. The rosemary taste was pretty subtle, so next time I might try adding 2 tsp. rosemary. I used the original amount (1/2 cup) of sunflower seeds and it was definitely enough, even though I increased the amount of cabbage by 50%. I used the full 3 ounces of raisins, and it seemed like a lot. Alma and Derek liked it, but if I was just making it for me I might reduce the amount a bit. I used the full 3 ounces of feta and it’s not a huge amount, but it’s good I think. You barely notice the feta in the dish, but it adds a nice touch of salty brininess. If you want a vegan recipe you could definitely leave it out.

Update Jan 2018:

This is a standby I make frequently. Alma at almost 4 years old likes it a lot, and we no longer have to cut the cabbage up for her. Derek and I also enjoy this dish. I usually serve it with beluga lentils and some salad greens if I have any around. I like it all mixed together. Derek usually adds extra feta to his.

The only problem with this recipe is that as it’s written we eat most of it for dinner. I’ve tried making more but in my 12-inch skillet I can only comfortably fit 1 pound 4 ounces of sliced cabbage (from an approximately 1.5 pound cabbage). I can fit 1.5 pounds but it’s quite tight and hard to stir without spilling. Ideally I’d like to make 2 to 2.5 pounds of cabbage, either in two batches in my cast iron skillet or in a larger dutch oven. I’m not sure yet which option is preferable.

One note about the rosemary. Whenever I buy rosemary for this dish we never use it all up, so I’ve taken to rinsing and freezing the extra stalks whole in a ziploc bag. It’s super easy to pull the leaves off the frozen rosemary and chop it up. And that way I can get several recipes worth out of one purchase.


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