I’ve been trying to remember when I first started roasting cabbage. I think perhaps it was back in 2013, when I moved home to live with my parents. There’s an image I have in my mind where I’m standing alone in their kitchen, fawning over a tray of freshly roasted strips. At the time Ben was living in Sydney. His start-up had just been accepted into an accelerator, which was terribly exciting and forced him and his two business partners to leave their jobs in finance and work full-time on their own business. The deal was three months in Sydney, working with mentors, before heading to Silicon Valley to pitch to investors and (hopefully) raise money. We didn’t love the idea of living apart, but it was too good an opportunity to pass up; so, we cut our lease short, packed up our belongings and I moved back to my childhood home.
Those three months were, in the end, really lovely. I loved being in Red Hill. My commute to work was longer, but it meant I could drive along the winding roads that lead to and from my parents’ home - past vineyards and paddocks and trees; so much greenery. It was good for my soul and reminded me how much I love living on the Mornington Peninsula. When we came home from the USA, Ben and I decided it was where we wanted to raise our children.
During the week my parents’ worked late, so I had the house to myself after work. I would grab a cookbook from my mother’s enviable collection and sit on the couch, taking my time reading the pages. I’d then wander into the kitchen, open the pantry and ponder what to make. Their spice drawer was filled with interesting blends that, unlike my collection, were all within the best before date. There were bags of farro and roasted hazelnuts, and different bottles of extra virgin olive oil. In the fridge, Dad kept seemingly ten varieties kinds of cheese. While munching on a spoonful of roasted + salted peanut butter, taken from my Dad’s stash (he loves the stuff arguably even more than me), I would settle on an idea and start cooking. I’d then take my meal back to the dining table, along with another cookbook, which I’d read while eating. It was blissful.
Perhaps I could embrace the solitude so joyfully because I knew it was fleeting? I expect that may be true. Regardless, I am grateful for that time, for the interruption to our lives and change in trajectory that occurred when Ben left to pursue his passion. Retreating to my parents’ home and spending time alone as I did - with food and words and trees - helped me to slow down and see things more clearly. And it reminded me that I really love to cook.
Over those three months I baked a lot of cakes - like this one. Oh, and this. I also attempted my first (and last, I’ll admit) roast pork loin, became more than a little obsessed with ricotta for lunch and discovered the wonder that is roasted cabbage. Last week, as Ben, Joan and I stood around the kitchen bench eating roasted cabbage strips straight off the baking tray, I thought it was about time I shared the method here, just in case you’re not already in the habit of doing so yourself. It’s rather life changing.
1/4 head of cabbage (I like to use purple cabbage)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
2. Line a baking tray with baking paper, or you can put your cabbage straight onto the tray - your choice.
3. Wash the cabbage, dry it with a tea towel, then slice it into 2-3cm wide strips.
4. Put the cabbage on the baking tray then drizzle with the oil. Add a small pinch of salt then massage the cabbage with the oil and salt.
5. Spread the cabbage out so all the pieces are lying flat, then bake in the oven for ~15 minutes (tossing the cabbage halfway through if needed to ensure even browning), until the edges are starting to crisp up and become brown. Depending on your oven, the thickness of your strips, how crowded your baking tray is and whether you double the recipe like I tend to do and cook two trays at the same time, you may need an extra 5-10 minutes until it reaches supreme deliciousness.