Thinly slicing and slowly cooking the cabbage and onions bring out their essential sweet nature, and makes a mellow, warming side dish for cold weather roasts (including, I must admit, a nice twist to take the place of plain cabbage alongside corned beef). It's a fun thing to serve with sausages, or offer at a cook-out, as a cooked, slightly sweet substitute for sauerkraut.
It's also a nice item to have with a vegetarian dinner of beans, rice or quinoa, and a crispy green salad.
- Remove and discard and wilting, browned, or damaged leaves from the outside of the cabbage. Quarter the cabbage, then cut out and discard the core.
- Slice the cabbage as thinly as possible and set it aside. (You can use a food processor or kitchen mandoline to do this, if you like, but a sharp knife does the job just fine.)
- Halve, peel, and slice the onions. They should also be sliced as thinly as possible.
- Heat a large pot or deep saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the oil or butter.
- When the oil is hot, add the onions, sprinkle them with the salt, and cook until the onions soften and wilt, about 3 minutes.
- Add the cabbage and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the vegetables are extremely tender, about 30 minutes.
- Uncover and stir occasionally—every 5 minutes or so—and add a tablespoon or two of water to keep the vegetables from sticking, if necessary.
- The low and slow cooking will start to caramelize the onions, so the mixture will take on a slightly browned appearance, even if they don't brown against the pan. That's what's going to bring out the sweetness in these otherwise sharp vegetables, so don't try and rush it!
- Salt to taste before serving. Freshly ground black pepper is pretty tasty on this, too, although you may want to let diners add that themselves.
- Add a clove or two of peeled and thinly sliced garlic along with the onions for a hit of garlic pungency
- Pump up the flavor with a teaspoon of caraway seeds, cumin seeds, or fenugreek seeks (or a combination thereof) to the oil, cover and let the seeds "pop" before adding the onions
- Use leeks instead of onions for an even sweeter end result
- Include another vegetable with the cabbage: thinly sliced fennel is a good choice, as are thinly sliced or grated carrots to parsnips