Roasted Napa Cabbage

I’ve probably said this before, but I’ll say it again: when I’m busy and/or don’t know what to make for supper I roast a bunch of vegetables. Often they’re pretty basic; I’ll use a fat and salt and leave it at that. Sometimes I like to get creative with it. This recipe was from a more creative night.


Napa cabbage is a mild, Chinese cabbage with light green, wrinkly leaves and wide, white stems. You can use it in your favorite coleslaw or other cabbage recipe. The leaves are much more tender than round cabbage and are good for wraps - that’s even a traditional Asian use, not just a newfangled one.


Roasting leafy vegetables is a little tricky, but only in the balance of getting the stems cooked without burning the leaves. If you don’t mind crunch, then simply roast until the leaves are done to your liking. If you want the stems and core tender, then test the core before broiling. If it’s not tender enough, roast a little longer.


Since this is an Asian cabbage, I decided to use some Asian flavors, though fairly mild and mellow ones. A recipe for grilled escarole inspired me to massage the oil into the leaves. It doesn’t take much longer than drizzling it, and ensures the oil is well distributed.


The Cooking Light recipe that inspired mine uses a whole grain mustard. I thought at first they were coriander seeds, and that seemed to make more sense to use with a Chinese cabbage. I am not fond of the seeds whole so I crushed them with a small mortar and pestle. I liked the rough texture rather than a finely ground one.


My bottle of sesame oil said its smoke point is 417° so I kept my roasting temperature at 400°. When I was ready to brown it under the broiler, though, I turned up the heat. If you decide to use a different oil, keep its smoke point in mind during the initial roasting, and keep your temperature lower than that. When you are ready to brown it you can turn the heat higher.


Roasted leafy vegetables do not always photograph well, (see Roasted Pac Choi), but a sprinkle of chopped cilantro both makes the dish prettier, and adds to the flavor.


Photos by  Zachary Cross

Photos by Zachary Cross

Roasted Napa Cabbage

Inspired by Sweet and Sour Roasted Napa Cabbage Wedges


1 Napa cabbage

~ 2 tablespoons sesame oil (not toasted)

~ 2 teaspoons coriander seeds

Salt and pepper to taste

Cilantro for garnish


Preheat oven to 400°. Crush the coriander seeds in a mortar and pestle. Cut the cabbage into wedges. I had a medium-sized head and cut it into quarters. Massage oil into the cabbage and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place, cut side down, on a baking sheet. Roast for 6 minutes, then turn and sprinkle with the coriander. Roast 6 minutes more and check the core for doneness. Roast longer if needed. Once the core is nearly tender to your liking, switch your oven to broil and cook until browned to taste, around 3-5 minutes (keep an eye on it).


Printable recipe here