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Sautéed cabbage and onions

Prep time 5 minutes
serves 4 people

Photography by Tracey Creed
Recipe by Amandine Paniagua and Tracey Creed
Words by Tracey Creed

Published September 28 2023


2 tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
12 savoy cabbage, cored and sliced into 1 cm ribbons
2 medium onions, thickly sliced
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tbsp dill seeds
2 tbsp lime juice
Flaked salt to taste


In a large (12-inch) skillet, heat the olive oil and garlic over medium heat.

When the garlic is just beginning to brown, add cabbage, onions, red pepper flakes and dill seeds to the skillet.

Sauté until the cabbage and onions are tender and they begin to brown, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir through the lime juice. Add flaked salt to taste and serve.

Cabbage is the universal vegetable

My Mum was a fantastic cook and a stay-at-home mum, so our meals were always at home. But she didn’t want me bothering her in the kitchen. So, I watched and absorbed from a distance. I quickly realised that food was the love language in our home—domestic skills also always felt modern and relevant at home, and so the moment I became old enough to share food with others, I did. Cabbage, though, I don’t ever really recall eating cabbage when I was growing up. Even after moving out of home, for years to come, I never ate cabbage. That all changed when sauerkraut became a thing here, so, 2015. Around then. Fermentation was the gateway, but it was not until June this year that I picked up The Penguin Book of Herbs and Spices at a market in Titirangi.

Cookbooks are like chroniclers of time and how we live. This particular issue was published in 1974, first in 1966, and it is Rosemary Hemphill’s guide to spices and herbs. Organised alphabetically, each herb, spice and aromatic seed has its own page noting characteristics, medicinal applications and recipes. And there are many ideas here. It's also a perfect companion for gardeners. The introduction includes classifications, harvesting and growing notes. The recipes range from the simple to the slightly more complex. And while the recipes are not strictly vegan or vegetarian, many can be. It is here I found The Hot Slaw with lemon, butter and dill. Recipes such as these are trend-proof and always delicious. The following week, I added a savoy cabbage to my online order.

It’s all over the world. Cabbage is a staple everywhere. We've strayed a bit from the original Hot Slaw recipe, but the beauty of it is you simply can't go wrong. Cabbage, onion, pepper, garlic. Good olive oil and lots of lime juice. It’s just the best. Pull from the abundant cabbages that flood the market throughout the year. Red, green and savoy varieties, all work beautifully. This dish takes minimal prep or planning. If you have onions and some form of citrus—either lime, lemon or apple cider vinegar, either make an acceptable addition. Try it this year, and you might end up with a new tradition.

Let’s celebrate pre-industrial cuisine!

When redefining my relationship with food, I was reintroducing fats and eating more, generally. This time allowed me to reassess what I was eating and connected me to my body in a way that, until then, in all honesty, led me to some poor decisions with no consideration for my future. I consider that moment the portal that led to the life I lead now, how I feed myself and others. This, plus my nutritional science studies, provided a new lens through which to view eating. The shift has been profound and one that I am grateful for every day.

In my mid-twenties, I would frequent a hippie outpost called Wise Cicada. It was a health food store with a cafe, and the food was always delicious, which converted me to a lifetime of eating big bowls of salad. The food was beautiful and aromatic, leaning heavily toward Middle Eastern with an intent focus on macrobiotics. There was a lot of steamed brown rice, beans and tempeh and hummus; nutrition-boosters like wheat germ and sprouted grains were on offer. The restaurant is closed now, but it taught me a big, satisfying salad can take you far. Now, this approach and these foods inspire my meals. An ideal bowl is this sautéd cabbage with tempeh, forbidden rice and kale in the oven with pepper flakes at 180 degrees Celsius for six minutes, drizzled with tahini dressing and finished with sunflower and sesame seeds. These are the foods that nourish me.

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