Roast Cabbage In A Bright Lemon Sauce To Create Complex Flavors

As the seasons change, it's natural to turn to hearty roasted vegetables in place of chilled salads. Consequently, you'll want to say goodbye to raw shredded cabbage in coleslaw and welcome this tender and sumptuous roasted cabbage wedges recipe from Tasting Table recipe developer Hayley MacLean. "The sauce used on the cabbage is bright and earthy, with the lemon juice and garlic making up the main flavor profile, and the red pepper flakes bring just a touch of heat," MacLean says.

Roasting vegetables in the oven caramelizes the natural sugars, crisps up the edges, and tenderizes the centers. As for cabbage, it enriches its flavor and texture, bestowing a tender yet chewy consistency, bursting with intense vegetal savoriness and a bitter finish. Roasted red cabbage is peppery, fibrous, and crunchy, while roasted green cabbage becomes soft, nutty, and slightly sweet. A lemon sauce will bring a vibrant tanginess to brighten cabbage's earthy and savory flavors while tempering the bitterness and peppery bite. 

Lemon is a widely used flavor enhancer because it complements all the other major tastes, from umami to sweet. Creamy pasta dishes, soups, fish, and even mayonnaise recipes all involve finishing with a squeeze of lemon juice. Making lemon the star ingredient in a roasting sauce is nearly as simple and requires only a few ingredients.

Lemon sauce tips and pairings

Lemon juice, oil, butter, garlic, and basic seasonings like salt and pepper are enough to enrich roasted cabbage, but you can make a few tweaks to add even more flavors to the mix. A sprinkle of crushed red pepper or cayenne adds a spicy kick, and if you want a sweeter result, you could stir in a bit of sugar. For a gourmet twist, crush a head of roasted garlic in with lemon juice and oil instead of using raw garlic. That said, you can also simplify the sauce by using garlic powder or dried granulated garlic.

A blend of butter and oil infuses cabbage with extra flavor. MacLean agrees and comments, "The butter and olive oil give it a velvety richness all forming into sweet, savory, and tangy deliciousness!" When roasting, use an oil with a high smoke point like avocado oil, or something stable like olive oil, to avoid the release of harmful chemicals at high temperatures. You can also add the lemon sauce once the cabbage is cooked. Simply dry roast the cabbage and pour the sauce over the wedges while they're still hot.

Lemon-roasted cabbage wedges or steaks benefit from a wide range of garnishes. You could sprinkle them with fresh chopped herbs to enhance their earthiness or add chopped toasted pecans, pine nuts, or almonds for crunch and nuttiness. To infuse a bit of salt and creaminess, add feta, ricotta salata, or fresh Parmesan cheese to your roasted cabbage wedges.