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Sautéed Cabbage with Fennel and Garlic


Unlike kale and Brussels sprouts, which have undergone a recent resurgence, cabbage is still considered boring and bland at best and mushy and smelly at worst. In our recipe, we mitigate the pungent flavors and sulfurous odors that can plague many (over)cooked cabbage dishes while bringing out the vegetable’s natural sweetness and maintaining a crisp-tender texture. Instead of boiling or braising, we pan-steam and sauté the cabbage over relatively high heat to cook it quickly and add an extra layer of flavor from browning. A precooking step of soaking the cabbage reduces bitterness while providing extra moisture to help the cabbage steam. Cooked alliums help reinforce sweetness, while an acid provides a shot of brightness.

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  • 1 small head savoy cabbage (1 1/4 pounds), cored and sliced thin
  • 3 tbl extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 fennel bulb, fronds minced, stalks discarded, bulb halved, cored, and sliced thin
  • Salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced to paste
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbl grated Parmesan cheese


Servings 4
Preparation time 15mins
Cooking time 30mins
Adapted from


Step 1

1. Place cabbage in large bowl and cover with cold water; let stand for 3 minutes. Drain cabbage well and set aside. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add fennel bulb and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic and pepper flakes and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Transfer fennel mixture to small bowl.

2. Return now-empty skillet to medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon oil, and heat until shimmering. Add cabbage and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover and cook, without stirring, until cabbage is wilted and lightly browned on bottom, about 3 minutes.

3. Stir and continue to cook, uncovered, until cabbage is crisp-tender and lightly browned in places, about 4 minutes longer, stirring once halfway through cooking. Remove skillet from heat. Stir in fennel mixture, reserved fennel fronds, and lemon juice. Season with salt to taste, transfer to serving bowl, drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon oil, and sprinkle with Parmesan. Serve.

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