Savoy cabbage

Savoy cabbage

We are starting a new feature here at Gluten-Free Girl. (I know the title says Girl, but this site is really a joint effort now, between me and the Chef. Everything has changed with him, including what I write here. Of course I write we now.

As those of you have been reading know, I love stories. I love the stories that curl up into the sky like curlicues of smoke from a chimney, as people gather together and share their experiences. Food starts stories. Who grew this? What were the weather conditions and family crises that gave bloom to this? Who picked it for me? How did it get here? And what was the experience around the table when everyone ate it?

Of course, food also blooms stories of love, falling down, noticing the world, and bacon parties with friends. Food is, it seems, about so much more than food.

But in the end, it all really comes down to the food around here. Much as I have enjoyed the chance to write about our lives, the small realizations and the moments of hilarity, I am still utterly in love with food.

All the best meals start with great ingredients.

And so, on Mondays, we’ll be offering a photograph, an incentive to cook. (And most weeks, it will be far less writing than today’s.) We would love to hear your ideas. What would you cook, if this were in front of you? What great meals have begun with this humble ingredient?

So, let’s begin.

Savoy cabbage. Its dark green, crinkly leaves just called for a photograph the other day, late in the afternoon, when I brought it home from the farmers’ market. (This one was grown by the good folks at Nash Organics. I bought it from a cheerful woman at the University District farmers’ market.) Any farmer that grows a beauty like this should be proud.

I don’t know why Savoy cabbages aren’t more popular here in the U.S. than they are. When I lived in London, these luminous green heads popped up everywhere. I understand why people eat them regularly there. Milder in flavor than traditional green cabbage (and far less bitter than kale or its cousins), Savoy cabbages have sturdy leaves that cup liquid like hands outstretched.

Besides, doesn’t it look like something Willy Wonka grew this in his chocolate factory? Oompa loompa food.

And I can’t help but sing the Beatles’ song, Savoy Truffle, when I’m cutting one. “But you have to have them all pulled out before the Savoy cabbage!”

The other night, I made a traditional Italian bread soup, with some stale gluten-free bread. (It goes stale quickly. That’s easy to find.) Again, Jamie Oliver inspired us. I boiled the Savoy cabbage with red and lacinato kale, in chicken stock, for five minutes. Anchovies and bacon snuggled together in the roasting pan until the anchovies had melted into the crisping pork. Mix those together, and you already have a meal. Layer the toasted bread, the meaty cabbage, loads of Fontina and Parmigiano cheese, and then repeat. Fill the pot with the chicken stock and slide into the oven for 40 minutes. When the Chef took his first bite, late at night, he said, “Holy god.”

I love that reaction.

And so, what would you do with Savoy cabbage?

(I love the community that develops in the comments section. You all have as much to say as I do, and you inspire me with your food ideas. So, fire away.)

50 comments on “Savoy cabbage

  1. Kitt

    What a beautiful shot! I don’t think I’ve ever seen Savoy cabbage in the market, but maybe I just wasn’t looking for it. Can it be prepared like sauteed kale (my experiment this weekend)? Barring that, I might try to make sauerkraut, or just do what you did. It sounds delicious.

  2. Hannah

    Can you start a contest where we can get in bed with you and the chef and taste food? hehehee kidding.

    Ummm I don’t know what I’d do with savoy cabbage. It looks so different than traditional cabbage.

    I love cabbage rolls. Is that so wrong? Maybe a fun cabbage-roll filling. You got me thinking with your bacon post–maybe some kind of pancetta or bacon-studded rice filling for the cabbage rolls?

    Your Uncle,


  3. Zoe

    I made savoy cabbage last night! Cabbage chiffonade, tossed quickly in a hot pan until tender, and then lots of Worcestershire sauce, salt & pepper. We have savoy cabbage all the time, but then again I do live in England…we’re diversifying into January king and cavolo nero which are in season right now.

  4. Aran

    Wondeful because I happen to love savoy cabbage and we ate lots of it growing up. We used to cook the cabbage in plain water, enough to cover it. Salt pepper. When it was done cooking, we used to saute some garlic in olive oil and add it to the cabbage. Served with cooked garbanzo beans on the side. I know, it doesn’t sound very sexy and elaborate but it was delicious. Simple everyday food.

  5. Anonymous

    When Savoy looks better then the Napa, I always replace it for most cabbage recipes. our favorite is Vietnamese Spring rolls. Someimes we get lazy and mix all the wonderful ingredients together, make extra dipping sauce and call it salad!

  6. Violetsrose

    I’d make golubtsi – traditional russian dish of minced meat wrapped with cabbage leaves – delicious!

  7. kaysdays

    Sorry to get off the subject, but I have a pressing question. I’ve found lots of “legal” flours at the international grocery. Most have a small bit of writing in English, showing the ingredients. Are these flours safe from cross contamination? Shauna, do you have any experience with these flours, good or bad? Anyone else have helpful information?

    I would like to find out that these products are reliable, because their prices are much lower than the ones at the health food store.

    Thanks for your help!

    Your savoy cabbage photo makes me look forward to the gardening season here in the midwest. I’ll be planting tomatoes from seed in my basement greenhouse next week. By the way, Sungold has been my favorite cherry tomato for the last 15 years. Those little orange gems taste FABULOUS!

  8. Jenna Lee

    Since the leaves are so sturdy and hold their deep cup shape, I think these would be perfect for lettuce wraps, with a mix of tiny diced chicken, scallions, bok choy, and sweet and hot chili sauce inside. Yay, spring is almost here!

  9. Elizabeth

    Sauteed crisp-tender, and drizzled with umeboshi vinegar. I can eat an entire head of cabbage as a meal. I’ll have to try your “soup” recipe, though as I’m cow-dairy- as well as gluten-free, will need to change the cheeses a bit.

  10. Anonymous

    I bought a head of Savoy cabbage to make the recipe on Luisa’s site, Rice and Smothered Cabbage…from Marcella Hazan originally, I think…but then I saw Jamie’s episode too and I think I may have actually drooled…now, knowing that you and the chef enjoyed it, I don’t really see how I can make anything else.

    One thing though, my savoy looks nothing like your picture, mine is light green, very pale, did I buy the wrong thing?


  11. ~M

    I have never tried (or seen) savoy cabbage. But based on your remark that they have “sturdy leaves that cup liquid like hands outstretched,” I would use them like lettuce in lettuce wraps!

  12. Diane

    I do an Indian type stir-fry with shredded cabbage, shallots, panch poran (a mixture of bengali spices), and a wee bit of lemon. “Pop” the spices in oil to brown but not burn, then add finely chopped shallots and saute until light golden, then add the cabbage and saute until slightly soft but still with tooth. Add salt and lemon.

  13. Leah Bevington


    Fry up some onions and bacon, then drop the cabbage in, until it’s bright and perfect, then toss the bacon/cabbage with pasta and some fresh mozzarella, stir until it’s all stringy and cheese goodness. Fresh pepper on top and there is dinner!

  14. Melissa

    Holy god, indeed. Delish. Can’t wait to make it! I pick up my winter share of our CSA this weekend and I’m hoping there’s some savoy in it.

  15. La Niña

    I’ve never tried Savoy, but I bet it would work great in the Russian dish my Russian grandmother made- Stuffed Cabbage. She made a mixture of ground beef, onions, cooked rice, and salt and pepper. She removed the thick stem from the cabbage leaf, and then rolled a handful of beef mixture in the leaf. She placed all the stuffed cabbage packages into a stock pan, and covered them with a homemade tomato sauce. Sometimes she’d add raisins to the tomato sauce. The stuffed cabbage cooks on the stove top until all is tender.

    It’s great comfort food… since my husband is not fond of cabbage, I haven’t made it recently. But maybe the Savoy is the key!

  16. EB

    “Anchovies and bacon snuggled together in the roasting pan until the anchovies had melted into the crisping pork”

    You are now personally responsible for my drool drowned keyboard….

  17. Sarah

    I bought a savoy cabbage just yesterday (I’m a lover of many things in the Cruciferae family…no need to convince me). I plan on making Gado-Gado with it later in the week.

  18. liz

    The photo is gorgeous. Hmmm… I’d probably keep it simple. Shred it, toss with some finely cut apples, shredded carrots, maybe some raisins, and a sweet ginger dressing made with rice vinegar, sesame oil, freshly grated ginger, a bit of garlic, and sesame seeds.

  19. beatgrl

    Shauna, that photo is absolutely stunning.

    I don’t believe I’ve ever had Savoy cabbage before, which is strange because I love greens like crazy. I am going to find one and try making jenna lee’s chicken springrolls and Diane’s Indian stir fry. MMMMM.

  20. Daphne

    For some reason I can never find Savoy cabbage, but I can always find Napa cabbage, so I use that for everything Savoy-related. My favorite is a light lemon cream sauce with peas and mint, with little orrichiette pasta and cabbage cooked down in the sauce. mmmmmmm

  21. Alena

    I’ve never heard of savoy cabbage, but it sounds divine! 🙂 Heck, with the recipe you described I might even get my finicky husband to try it! I’m planning to go gluten free pretty quick here (as soon as I get enough recipes together) and I want my hubby to go with me, but that means finding food he’ll like! Thanks for the ideas! I LOVE YOUR BLOG!!! I read everyday! 😉

  22. Stella Blue

    I might do a kind of tamale thing, with a mixture of corn dough/ chicken/ chilies/ onions wrapped up on the inside, and then tie it up with a bit of corn silk and bake it for a bit. So inspiring!!

  23. Dolores

    Your soup looks deliciuous… but I’m hooked with the picture.. It could be a perfect example of “implied texture” for my art lit students!! Look at those leaves…. I can feel them!!!

  24. The Good Eatah

    What a stunning photo! Seriously, you should frame that.

    I would probably make my Grandmother’s stuffed cabbage recipe: gound beef, onions and rice filling boiled caggabe leaves and covered in tomato sauce and carrots.

    Just got your book from the library, BTW, and had to sneak in a few pages at work it’s so good 🙂

  25. Anonymous

    Kris here, my first time posting though I’ve been lurking for some time. Cabbage really moves me and that photo is beautiful!

    I think just about any kind of cabbage goes well with sausage, probably most any kind of sausage as well, I’m not choosy but I do like the sage-y breakfast sausage from our farmer’s market. I’d brown a pound or so of sausage slices in a large skillet, add at least two onions, sliced, and the savoy, thinly sliced. Saute until almost tender, toss in several cloves minced garlic, stir fry until the cabbage feels right to your teeth, salt and pepper to taste and serve over brown rice.

    Alternately, instead of making the rice, boil some small red potatoes until tender and stir them into the cabbage & sausage just before serving to coat the potatoes with flavor.

    Serve with parmesan or crumbled feta (you don’t need as much salt in the cabbage with these cheeses for garnish) or perhaps a splash of apple cider vinegar for zing. Or just eat it straight up. Yum, yum.

  26. KatyBelle

    I LOVE savoy cabbage.

    I’ll either shred it as fine as I possibly can or just into 1″ wide ribbons, then stir fry it in butter with salt, pepper and a splash of malt vinegar.

    If I shredded it super-fine, then I’ll toss it with pasta and toasted pine nuts and/or almonds and top with parmesan. This is hands down my fave pasta dish. You could also toss in some prosciutto with the almonds, or use chopped bacon instead of the butter. Just crisp up the bacon in a pan, drain away most of the fat, then add the cabbage.

    If it’s in bigger pieces, I like it with pork chops and mashed potatoes.

  27. the nibbling marmot

    No savoy cabbage ideas from me, but I wanted to let you know that your blog inspires me and brightens my day. Thanks for writing.

  28. Kathryn

    I too would saute it with salt, pepper and butter. Plate it, then drizzle it with a flavored oil.

  29. Nick


    I would chop it up and stir fry it with some assorted veggies and sliced chicken breast, then simmer it in a spicy peanut sauce and pour over rice noodles. That’s my two cents.

    The Peanut Butter Boy

  30. Kris Bordessa

    I would use it to make Kaiwiki corn relish – if only I had the recipe! Cafe Pesto on the Big Island of Hawaii serves Shrimp Half Moon Nachos (not gluten free) with this amazing relish of corn and savoy cabbage and…(doing this from memory) red peppers, I think. The dressing may have soy sauce in it, but I’m thinking there must be a way to *almost* replicate it…

  31. m.e.

    Hi, I’m a lurker but couldn’t resist sharing one of my favorite dinner recipes:
    I like savoy cut thin and quickly sauteed with pancetta (little garlic, too) and a poached egg on top with some fresh parm. So delightful with the still crispy-ish cabbage and the oozie-deliciousness of the egg. (Could also be a lovely brunch option, really. Mimosas anyone!)

  32. Ann

    Please, please break down your recipe techniques and proportions a little more? I can’t quite get a picture in my head of what your end product looked like, and yet I’m dying to try making it. I’m drooling.

    I’ve done savoy cabbage on pasta with a little italian sausage and pecorino pepato. Yum!

  33. Samantha

    That’s great that you made Jamie’s cabbage soup, my husband and I watched the show this past Saturday and boy did that dish look good!

    I happened to make savoy cabbage last night. Thin sliced an onion and sauteed it in a bit of butter and olive oil, then added a head of shredded savoy, salt, pepper, and a dash of cumin. I cooked it until the cabbage was almost tender, and added a drained can of diced tomatoes. 10 more minutes of cooking, then I turned off the heat and added a good-sized spoonful of sour cream. So good, I’m looking forward to the leftovers for lunch.

    I love reading all of the ideas, stella blue… your tamale idea sounds amazing!!

  34. babysteps

    I agree, cabbage and sausage=yummy

    I would braise (wine or chicken stock or water with a dash of vinegar) the cabbage lightly

    make a mash of parsnips and potatoes

    to the mash, mix in browned loose pork sausage or sauteed corned beef (hey, it’s almost St. Patty’s)

    take the mash and make wraps in the cabbage – use toothpicks or gravity (seam side down) to hold if its not ‘cuppy’ enough

    eat right away, or bake as leftovers

    dairy folks could add cheese to the mash too, and top w/cheese when re-heating

  35. Adele

    Sliced into thin lengths, satueed with some butter and high quality wheat-free Tamari. Mmmmmm

    But ya know, it looks like an alien brain!

  36. Sho

    Of course, I would make a savory savoy cabbage kugel! Hmmmm…Passover is around the corner….

  37. Anonymous

    I watched that episode of Jamie Oliver and lamented that I couldn’t eat that dish! It’s wonderful to know that you made it successfully even with gluten-free bread. Do you make your own or do you have a favorite brand?

  38. Chef Rachel

    Wow, absolutely gorgeous picture of a vegetable that doesn’t get much press. Savoy works well in recipes for stuffed cabbage; you have to blanch the leaves briefly and trim away the midrib so they’ll bend around the filling. I also like to thinly slice Savoy, carrots (cut in match sticks or thin coin like rounds), with red onion, then blanch them very briefly in lightly salted, boiling water (one kind of vegetable at a time), then shock w/cold water, drain, pat dry, and toss with vinaigrette. MMM!

  39. SassyBigButtBeauty

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Savoy Cabbage out here, but I don’t suppose I’ve ever looked. That picture is divine and it does make me want to seek one out.

    I’m thinking I’d shred it and marinate it with some lime juice, cilantro and onion. Then, I’d add it to a nice warm fish taco, perhaps with some mango salsa.

  40. alison

    Savoy, cream, bacon onion is my usual but i’m enjoying reading the other suggestions here Shauna – thanks!

  41. shady charbonnet

    Colcannon of course!

    Render 1/2lb. chopped bacon (Irish if you can find it) and reserve the crispy bits. Sautee 1 large minced sweet onion until golden in the bacon fat then fold in the shredded savoy and about a tsp. each of fresh thyme and parsley. Smother down until the cabbage is tender. Mix in mashed potatoes (3-4 lbs. Yukon golds boiled in salted water just until fork tender then peeled and roughly smashed with butter, cream and plenty of fresh cracked pepper). Fold in half of the bacon and top with the rest. Dot with butter and bake @ 350 until golden brown and delicious.

    Talk about comfort food.

  42. Vincci

    I made cabbage rolls with savoy cabbage once and I would definitely go back. The “veins” make the rolls look so pretty!

  43. Shauna

    I love this! You are all amazing. I was hoping that people might take to this, but I didn’t anticipate this beautiful deluge of ideas. Wow. I’m going to need to buy three Savoy cabbages at the market on Saturday, just to make everything.

    Keep it coming. And on Monday, I’ll try another ingredient. This is such a wonderful community.

  44. Sheltie Girl

    I love all types of cabbage. It’s hard to find a nice Savoy cabbage at the market, even though they taste so good.

    You could always call your blog, Gluten Free Girl & the Chef…a nod to your togetherness at home and in cooking.

    Sheltie Girl @ Gluten A Go Go

  45. CatherineMarie

    We did stuffed cabbage in Egypt, with tomato sauce, but always served it with yogurt.

    Fill it with rice, onion, cinnamon, minced meat. Layer in a pan and cook with tomato sauce.

    I do a shredded cabbage with caraway seeds at home. I’ll sometimes start with bacon fat, toast up a small amount of caraway seeds, add sliced onion, and then the cabbage, once the onion is a little cooked. Toss to distribute the fat, add a smidge of water, and cook until its tender. You can dollop on a little sour cream to gild the lily.

  46. Faye

    OOoh I love Savoy cabbage. I usually buy it over the normal cabbage or iceberg lettuce only cause it's so much cheaper in my grocery store!

    Use it as you'd use any normal cabbage. Simple way is to steam & stir-fry it quickly in some garlic and oil and top with home-made or gf hoisin sauce (it exists!).

    Or you can wrap thumb-sized chunks of pork marinated in whatever seasonings you like and steam it for some delicious dim sum.

    Last week I chopped it up and used it in a mixture of pork, cabbage, tofu, carrots, and mushrooms for some delicious lettuce wraps!

    I hope you two continue to enjoy your savoy cabbage!

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