Caramelized Cabbage with Caraway-Chile Crisp

Marinated cabbage, seared until golden brown and tender, sits atop tangy labneh and a drizzle of warmly spiced chile crisp in this hearty vegetarian main.

Caramelized Cabbage with Caraway-Chile Crisp

Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Thom Driver

Active Time:
1 hrs 15 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs 5 mins
8 servings
About 2 cups

Packed with a variety of textures, this stunning vegetarian dish pairs juicy seared cabbage steaks with creamy, sweetened labneh and smoky chile crisp. The cabbage is marinated in a bright Champagne vinegar brine before being steamed until tender and then seared and roasted to pick up a golden brown, caramelized crust. Look for cabbages that are heavy for their size and have tightly wrapped green leaves. 

The cumin and caraway seeds in the chile crisp provide a warm nuttiness and hint of citrus to play off dried chiles in the spice-infused oil. The Chile Crisp recipe will yield more than you need for the cabbage — keep a jar in the fridge for spooning over vegetables, fried eggs, or even vanilla ice cream. (You can find the urfa biber for the chile crisp online at


Caraway-Chile Crisp

  • 2 large (1 1/2-ounce) shallots, roughly chopped (about 1/2 cup)

  • 6 garlic cloves

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt

  • 1 3/4 cups grapeseed oil

  • 2 tablespoons Aleppo pepper

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar

  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds

  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds

  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds

  • 1 tablespoon ground Urfa biber

  • 1 (3/8-ounce) dried guajillo chile, stem and seeds removed 

  • 1 (1/8-ounce) dried ají panca chile, stem and seeds removed 

Cabbage Marinade

  • 4 cups Champagne vinegar

  • 4 cups cold water

  • 6 tablespoons granulated sugar

  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt

  • 1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced (about 1/4 cup)

  • 4 large garlic cloves, smashed

  • 1 (3/4-ounce) serrano chile, thinly sliced (about 2 tablespoons)

  • 1 small (1/2-ounce) bunch fresh dill, plus more for garnish

Steamed Cabbage

  • 2 large (3-pound) heads green cabbage

  • 6 tablespoons kosher salt

  • 2 cups labneh (see Note)

  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup

  • 1/2 cup grapeseed oil, divided

  • 1 1/2 cups Caraway-Chile Crisp (recipe above)

  • Toasted sliced almonds, sliced red onion, mint, basil, and/or dill, for garnish


Make the caraway-chile crisp:

  1. Pulse shallots, garlic, and salt in a food processor until finely chopped, about 12 pulses. Transfer to a wide pot, and add oil. Cook, whisking often, over medium-low until shallots and garlic turn golden brown and bubbles in oil become smaller, about 11 minutes. Turn off heat; add Aleppo pepper, sugar, cumin, caraway, coriander, Urfa biber, guajillo chile, and ají panca chile to pot, and stir to combine. Let stand 10 minutes.

  2. Carefully transfer shallot-garlic mixture to a blender, and process until peppers and seeds are roughly the same size, about 15 seconds. (Do not process too long, or you will lose the texture.) Let cool in blender until mixture is room temperature, about 1 hour.

Make the cabbage marinade:

  1. Stir together vinegar, 4 cups water, sugar, and salt in a large bowl until sugar and salt are completely dissolved. Stir in ginger, garlic, serrano chile, and dill. Let steep, uncovered, in refrigerator until flavors meld, at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.

While marinade steeps, make the steamed cabbage:

  1. Slice each cabbage into 2 (2-inch-thick) planks. Rub salt evenly over both sides of planks.

  2. Pour water to a depth of 1 inch into a large pot. Bring water to a boil over high. Place cabbage planks in a large steamer basket, and place steamer basket over boiling water in pot. Cover and reduce heat to medium; steam until cabbage is fork-tender, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove cabbage from steamer basket; place on a wire rack set inside a baking sheet, and let drain about 10 minutes.

  3. Place 2 warm cabbage planks in cabbage marinade. Place a weight, such as a plate, on top of cabbage to fully submerge cabbage planks. Let stand 10 minutes. Transfer cabbage to wire rack, and let stand until dry. Repeat procedure with remaining 2 cabbage planks.

  4. Stir together labneh and maple syrup in a medium bowl until combined. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

  5. Preheat oven to 350°F. Working in 4 batches, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Sear 1 cabbage plank until golden brown, about 5 minutes per side. (The best way to get an even sear is to place a weight, like a cast-iron skillet or burger press, on top of cabbage.) Transfer to a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast cabbage planks in preheated oven until heated through, about 10 minutes. Slice cabbage planks in half crosswise.

  6. Spoon about 1/4 cup labneh mixture onto center of each of 8 plates, and spread into a round slightly larger than cabbage plank half. For each serving, place cabbage plank half on labneh, and drizzle with 3 tablespoons caraway-chile crisp. Garnish with almonds, red onions, mint, basil, and additional dill.

To Make Ahead

Caraway-chile crisp may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 months. Cabbage can be marinated up to 24 hours in advance.

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