Gluten-free, Side Dishes, Special Diets, Vegan/Vegetarian

Braised Savoy Cabbage (Dad’s ‘Verza Stufata’)

Nicoletta October 20, 2017

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Braised Savoy Cabbage (Dad’s ‘Verza Stufata’), a simple, easy, and quick side dish yet packed with flavor. The cabbage cooks slowly, covered, in a soffritto of oil, garlic, and chili flakes, and just a touch of water until nice and tender.

Song of the day: Back To The Earth, by Jason Mraz.

Braised Savoy cabbage

There are dishes that remind me of my family more than others. Dishes that were eaten many a time at my parents’ table, that smell and taste like home.


There are products I see at the market that I immediately associate with the garden my family has in the countryside, that was my grandfather’s and then my father’s, a garden that is close to a river and on the river relies for its moisture. It is a garden that is a little wild, untamed, in the sense that it is not neatly organized but kept in the most natural way, with wildflowers growing in between the vegetables, with no irrigation, no pesticides or fertilizer. The local animals feed themselves when they want, what they want, much to my dad’s dismay (but there’s plenty for everybody). It is mostly abandoned in the winter season, when my parents are in Rome, if only for an abundance of squash, some Tuscan kale, and few varieties of cabbage.

This type of cabbage called Savoy cabbage (cavolo verza, in Italian) is used by my father in one of his signature recipes, one that has blessed our table many times and one that we unmistakably knew when it was cooking on the stove.

It is pretty easy, quick and simple, yet every time he makes it, we’re all happy and clean our plates. Loreto had never had braised cabbage before, but after he tried it he was a big fan and couldn’t wait to make it here. So, when we saw it at our local farmer’s market, we were excited and nonetheless one made its way home with us.

Braised Savoy cabbage

A nice soffritto is the base of the recipe: oil, garlic, and chili flakes (more or less according to your desired level of spiciness) are sauteed in the pan until nice and golden, then the chopped cabbage is added in and let it mingle with the other ingredients. When the cabbage is well coated and softened a bit, you add the water, just enough to cover the bottom of the pot, then the lid is put on. The cabbage cooks on low for a while, until your preferred texture is achieved, but don’t forget to stir it occasionally to check the water level, adding more water in case it is sticking to the pan, and uncovering it at the end to let the remainder of the water dissipate.

Braised Savoy cabbage

The Savoy cabbage’s leaves are beautifully crinkled, and because of this texture, it absorbs the flavors of the soffritto so well. I love how doing it this way brings out the sweetness in the cabbage and that hint of spiciness is a nice flavor kick.

Savoy cabbage is good in soups and stir-fries, and although I saw my dad put it in minestrone soup once or twice, he is a no-nonsense cook, that sticks to what he knows and what works best, never venturing out of his comfort zone. One thing I have to say, Loreto has influenced him a bit, and you can now find ginger in his fridge and turmeric and curry in his pantry, which he uses only to bump up the flavors of his Italian dishes (and because my mother told him they’re good for you).


After we made it at home and ate it, we had to call him and tell him how good it was, although, to reassure him, not as good as his.

Song of the day: Back To The Earth”, by Jason Mraz.

Braised Savoy cabbage

Braised Savoy Cabbage (Dad’s ‘Verza Stufata’)

  • Author: Nicoletta
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4 side servings 1x
  • Category: Side dish
  • Method: Braising
  • Cuisine: Italian


Braised Savoy Cabbage (Dad’s ‘Verza Stufata’), a simple, easy, and quick side dish yet packed with flavor. The cabbage cooks slowly, covered, in a soffritto of oil, garlic, and chili flakes, and just a touch of water until nice and tender.


  • 1 head savoy cabbage
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • pinch of chili flakes
  • 3 Tbsp e.v.o. oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup warm water (enough to cover the bottom of the pot)


  1. Remove any wilted outside leaves from the cabbage, wash and roughly chop, trimming the core.
  2. In a pot (or saucepan), add some olive oil, the garlic whole but slightly pressed, and a pinch of chili flakes.
  3. Saute on medium heat until the garlic is golden, then add the chopped cabbage.
  4. Saute for a couple of minutes, adjust with salt and pepper, add the warm water and put the lid on.
  5. Cook on low heat for about 25 minutes, or until your desired consistency (softer or firmer), stirring occasionally to check on the water, adding more water if needed, and taking the lid off in the last 5 minutes, letting the water dissipates.
  6. Remove the garlic whole before serving (if you wish).
  7. Serve either warm or room temperature, finishing with a drizzle of e.v.o. oil.


Any leftovers can be stored in the fridge and re-heated. They taste just as good, if not even better.

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Braised Savoy cabbage

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  • Avatar
    Reply Marisa's Italian Kitchen October 20, 2017 at 10:29 am

    A simple yet flavourful dish with a little hint of spice, delicious! And now I’m craving some braised Savoy cabbage!

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto October 23, 2017 at 4:18 pm

      Thank you, Marisa! Typical Italian dish with few, simple ingredients and a lot of flavor!

  • Avatar
    Reply Milena Perrine October 20, 2017 at 10:36 am

    What an incredible recipe and I love the soffritto base! Savoy cabbage is one of my favorite ingredients for stir fries, braised like this it sounds perfect!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta October 23, 2017 at 4:28 pm

      Thank you, Milena! It is a pretty tasty side dish, glad to hear you are among the cabbage lovers!

  • Avatar
    Reply Beyond the Chicken Coop October 22, 2017 at 9:04 pm

    There’s nothing better than foods that remind us of home. Your pictures are gorgeous! This cabbage dish sounds delicious.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta October 23, 2017 at 4:29 pm

      Thank you! I agree, love the foods that can take me back home in a taste or smell…

  • Avatar
    Reply annie@ciaochowbambina October 23, 2017 at 5:26 pm

    Truly, simple savory dishes like this are aways my favorite kind! Nothing like the flavors of ‘home’….

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta October 24, 2017 at 4:50 pm

      Thanks, Annie! Love all those flavors (and dishes) that are able to transport me home 😊.

  • Avatar
    Reply annika October 25, 2017 at 6:42 am

    Sometimes a simple recipe is all you need! Thank you for taking me to an Italian countryside… your posts are always a pleasure to read!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta June 7, 2018 at 11:20 am

      Thank you so much Annika, your comments are always appreciated. It seems like simple is what I know better 🙂 .

  • Avatar
    Reply Dawn @ Girl Heart Food October 25, 2017 at 8:49 am

    So nice when certain foods or recipes remind you of loved ones! I love savoy cabbage and this looks like something I would absolutely devour! Good thing you called your dad to tell him it wasn’t as good as his, lol 😉 Though, I’m sure this is pretty awesome. If you need any taste testers, just let me know…hehehe! Pinned!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta June 7, 2018 at 11:22 am

      I always reassure him that nobody cooks like him 😉 . Would love to live closer so we could be mutual taste testers! Thanks!

  • Avatar
    Reply Gigi_Phills May 3, 2019 at 4:27 pm

    I loved This recipe because it helped alot on how to cook it!! xD

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta May 3, 2019 at 4:31 pm

      So happy you enjoyed it! And glad you found the instructions easy to follow. Thank you so much, we always appreciate feedbacks.

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