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Roast Cabbage Puttanesca

The secret's in the sauce.


Roast cabbage wedges in a pan with puttanesca sauce and basil.

I’ve transformed cabbage into steaks, schnitzel, quesadillas, and enchiladas, but this riff on puttanesca might be my new favorite. Crispy charred cabbage wedges are smothered with a rich and tangy tomato sauce and finished with torn basil for a healthful and hearty weeknight dinner that will tempt meat-lovers and vegetarians alike.


Puttanesca sauce in a pan with a wooden spoon.

Originating in Naples, Italy, puttanesca is a spicy, salty tomato sauce grounded in garlic and anchovies and laced with olives and capers. Not only is it straightforward and simple to prepare (one pan!), it’s also primarily made with canned and jarred pantry staples, making it ideal for winter weeknight cooking. Puttanesca is typically served tossed into spaghetti, but many modern recipes also serve it over chicken or fish. This version swaps the protein for thick wedges of cabbage, roasted hot and fast until they’re rendered crispy and charred around the edges and gorgeously soft and buttery in the center.


Since the sauce contains anchovies, this dish is pescatarian, not vegetarian. If you don’t eat fish, you can leave out the anchovies. If you do eat fish but the the anchovies intimidate you, be brave and put them in anyway! You won’t taste them as anchovies per se, but they bring an extra dimension of richness and umami that you won’t want to miss.


Enjoy!

 

Roast Cabbage Puttanesca

(Serves 4 as an entree or 8 as a side)


Roast cabbage wedge on a plate topped with puttanesca sauce and basil.

1 small head cabbage, about 2 pounds

7 tbsp olive oil, divided

1 ½ tsp. kosher salt, divided, plus more as needed

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

4 anchovies, finely chopped

¼ tsp red chili flakes

2 tbsp. tomato paste

1 (28-oz) can whole tomatoes, chopped

½ cup mixed olives (preferably a mix of Castelvetrano and Kalamata olives), pitted and halved

¼ cup large capers

¼ cup fresh basil, for serving

 

Special equipment: baking sheet, metal pan


Method


Roast cabbage wedges on a sheet pan with a fish spatula.

Preheat oven to 450° F, rack in the middle position.


Using a sharp knife, cut cabbage head in half from top to bottom. Slice each half into four even wedges, making sure to split the core evenly so each wedge holds together. Arrange wedges on a bare metal baking sheet and brush on both sides with 4 tablespoons olive oil. Season with 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt.


Roast cabbage for 18-25 minutes, or until charred on the outside and tender in the center.


Meanwhile, add remaining 2 tablespoons oil to a large metal pan and set over medium heat. Add garlic and anchovies and cook until garlic is just starting to brown, 1-2 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and chili flake and cook, stirring constantly, until paste is darkened and starting to stick to the bottom of the pan, 2-3 minutes.


Add tomatoes, olives, and capers and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, mashing down on tomato chunks, until sauce is reduced and slightly thickened, about 15 minutes.


Nestle cabbage wedges into sauce in pan (or, alternatively, arrange cabbage wedges on serving platter and spoon sauce around). Top with basil and serve.


Roast cabbage wedges on a platter with puttanesca sauce, topped with basil.

Originally posted January 5, 2023.

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