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 base of oil, garlic, and chili flakes, and just a touch of water until nice and tender.
Some dishes remind me of my family more than others. Dishes that were eaten many times at my parents' table, that smell and taste like home.
Song of the day: Back To The Earth, by Jason Mraz
There are products I see at the market that I immediately associate with the garden my family has in the countryside near Rome. It was my grandfather's and now it is my father's, it is close to a river and on the river relies on its moisture. This garden is a little wild, in the sense that it is not neatly organized, but kept in the most natural way. Wildflowers grow in between the vegetables, there is no irrigation, and my father does not use any pesticides or fertilizer. At times, wild animals feed themselves off what my father has planted, much to his dismay. However, during the summer months, it produces more than enough for family consumption. During the winter season, it is mostly abandoned, because my parents live in Rome. The only produce is squash, Tuscan kale, and a few varieties of cabbage.
My father uses Savoy cabbage (cavolo verza, in Italian) to make one of his signature recipes, one that has blessed our table many times: braised cabbage (verza stufata).
Braised cabbage is a pretty easy and quick side dish. It is 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, loved it, and couldn't wait to make it. So, when we saw this beautiful cabbage at our local farmer's market, we were excited and brought it home with us.
Steps of the preparation
In a tall pot or dutch oven, saute oil, garlic, and chili flakes (more or less according to your desired level of spiciness) until nice and golden. Then, add the chopped cabbage and let it mingle with the other ingredients. When the cabbage is well coated and softened a bit, add the water, just enough to cover the bottom of the pot. Next, put on the lid. Cook the cabbage on low for a while, until your preferred texture is achieved. Don't forget to stir it occasionally to check the water level, adding more water in case it is sticking to the pan. Remove the lid at the end, to let the remainder of the water dissipate.
The Savoy cabbage's leaves are beautifully crinkled, and because of this texture, it absorbs the flavors of the oil, garlic, and chili flakes so well. This cooking method brings out the sweetness in the cabbage and that hint of spiciness is a nice flavor kick.
Other uses of Savoy cabbage
After we made it at home and ate it, we called him to tell him how good it was, although, to reassure him, not as good as his.Print
- 1 head savoy cabbage
- 2 cloves garlic
- pinch of chili flakes
- 3 Tbsp e.v.o. oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- ¼ cup warm water (enough to cover the bottom of the pot)
- Remove any wilted outside leaves from the cabbage, wash and roughly chop, trimming the core.
- In a tall pot (or dutch oven), add some olive oil, the cloves of garlic whole but slightly pressed, and a pinch of chili flakes.
- Saute on medium heat until the garlic is golden, then add the chopped cabbage.
- Saute for a couple of minutes, adjust with salt and pepper, add the warm water and put the lid on.
- 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.
- Remove the garlic whole before serving (if you wish).
- Serve either warm or at room temperature with a drizzle of e.v.o. oil.
Any leftovers can be stored in the fridge and reheated. They taste just as good, if not even better.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Category: Side dish
- Method: Braising
- Cuisine: Italian
I love baking and kneading dough because it takes me to a happy place in my soul.