Cook | Humble cabbage gets updated for a new generation

Cabbage is an inexpensive, versatile winter vegetable. It had a role in Jewish cuisine for more than a millennium, most prominently in Eastern Europe, and has long been the basis of soups, stuffed rolls and salads. I thought it was time for this humble ingredient to get a makeover.

In the Cabbage and Brie Strudel, green (sometimes called white) cabbage is used along with its frequent partners onion and caraway seeds. Pockets of melted cheese provide richness as well as a bit of tanginess. Using phyllo sheets (available in the freezer section of most supermarkets) saves time over making traditional strudel dough. Be sure to follow package directions for defrosting and storage. The recipe serves 2-3 as a main course. To serve 4-6, double the filling and make two strudels.

Sautéed Carrots and Cabbage with Mustard Seeds is in the tradition of dishes in Indian and Ethiopian Jewish cooking. The sauté plays on cabbage’s roots in the mustard family. Mustard oil, which is very pungent, adds a lot of bite to the dish. If you have never tried mustard oil, add half and taste before adding the rest. It is available in Indian and other specialty markets and some brands are certified kosher. For a milder dish, leave it out.


Cabbage and Brie Strudel

Serves 2-3

2 Tbs. plus 1⁄4 cup oil, plus extra for greasing pan

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 Tbs. finely chopped garlic

1/2 tsp. caraway seeds

1/4 tsp. salt, or more to taste

1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

1/8 tsp. ground cumin

4 cups green cabbage, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 cup cooked rice, cooled

4 oz. brie, cut into 1/4-inch pieces, divided

4 phyllo sheets, 14×18 inches, defrosted (keep covered until ready to use)

1/4 cup plain breadcrumbs or matzah meal

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush baking tray with oil.

Heat 2 Tbs. oil in large fry pan over medium-high heat. Sauté onion until beginning to soften and color, add garlic and sauté for 1 minute, add caraway, salt, pepper and cumin and sauté 1 minute. Add cabbage and sauté until just cooked through. Stir in cooked rice. Taste and correct seasoning if needed. Remove from heat. Mix in half of the brie pieces.

On a clean, dry work surface, lay out one of the phyllo sheets, keeping the others covered while you work. Brush with oil, then top with next sheet. Brush top of that sheet with oil. Place the third sheet on top and brush with oil. Top with last sheet, brushing top with oil. Scatter breadcrumbs across top. Work with 18-inch side facing you. Leaving at least a 2-inch margin from top and sides, mound filling about 4 inches wide across top. Sprinkle remaining brie over filling. Fold top edge of phyllo over filling, then fold sides over the cabbage and roll up.

Brush top and sides with oil. Place seam side down on greased baking pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for 10-20 minutes and gently cut with serrated knife in a sawing motion.


Sautéed Carrots and Cabbage with Mustard Seeds

Serves 4-6

2 Tbs. oil

2 tsp. brown mustard seeds

2 cups carrots, cut in 1⁄4-inch slices

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

8 cups green cabbage, cut in pieces about 1/2 inch wide and 1 inch long

1 tsp. mustard oil (optional)

Heat oil in large fry pan until hot over medium-high heat. Add mustard seeds. Stir occasionally and let cook until aroma is released and you can begin to hear them pop and sizzle. Add carrots and sauté until browned and beginning to soften. Stir in salt and pepper. Add cabbage and sauté until vegetables are cooked through. Toss with mustard oil if using.

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer. Her columns alternate with those of Josie A.G. Shapiro. She blogs at Contact her at

Faith Kramer

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer. She blogs about her food at Contact Faith at