Christmas red cabbage: recipe for a very healthy and traditional first course or side dish


The red cabbage is a compedium of gastronomic and nutritional virtues, despite its humble roots. Available today almost all year round, it used to be in the markets at the end of autumn, just in time for the Christmas Eve or Christmas menu in many homes in the interior of the peninsula, which was even used before the mass of the rooster.

Today it is still a very traditional and essential dish at many Christmas tables, especially in Madrid and areas of Castilla y León, such as Segovia. In each house the recipe has its own particular touch, although the apple, the raisins and the pine nuts are not usually missing, an exceptional ingredient in former times due to its high price, and that, if it could be allowed, dressed the red cabbage with a touch of luxury .

As in many traditional recipes, the perfect Christmas cabbage will be to the taste of each consumer, but in general there is consensus that the cabbage should remain slightly crisp. We will therefore avoid boiling it previously so as not to soften it too much, sautéing it directly in the pan.

It is usually seasoned with vinegar, which counteracts the sweetness and prevents the beautiful cabbage from losing its striking color, also with red wine. The aromas of spices can be more or less pronounced, although since we are at parties it is not a bad thing to add cinnamon, star anise or cloves. As for the apple, it can be sautéed or caramelized separately, or, as in this case, added directly to the pan to retain some of its crisp freshness.


For 6 people
  • Red cabbage (approximately) 800 g
  • Sweet onion 1
  • Corinth raisins or sultanas 50 g
  • Cinnamon stick 1
  • Star anise (optional) 1
  • Cumin beans (optional) 5 g
  • Cloves (optional) 3
  • Apple vinager 30 ml
  • Pippin apple 2
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pine nuts for serving (optional)
  • Red wine required (optional)

How to make Christmas red cabbage

Difficulty: Easy
  • Total time 1 hour
  • Elaboration 10 m
  • Cooking 50 m

Prepare the red cabbage by removing the outer leaves, especially if they are damaged, and cutting it into quarters. Remove the thickest and hardest part of the stem and proceed to julienne it before washing. Or remove the leaves, wash them, dry them and cut them later. Cut the onion into fine julienne strips or chop into small pieces.

Heat a bottom of olive oil in a large pan or pan and sauté the onion with a pinch of salt, until it becomes transparent. Add the raisins and cinnamon, and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add the red cabbage, season slightly and stir so that it begins to brown and lose a little volume.

Add the vinegar and the rest of the spices, stirring well. Cover and cook over low heat, for about 30 minutes, mixing occasionally as the cabbage decreases. Add a splash of red wine halfway through cooking if desired.

Meanwhile, wash and peel the apples. Core and cut into slices, cubes or grate, depending on how we like to find the pieces of the fruit. When the cabbage takes half an hour to cook, add the apple and stir well.

Cover again and continue cooking until the whole is to the desired point. Brown some pine nuts in a pan without oil -or confit them a little with butter- and serve with the finished red cabbage. It is convenient to remove the cinnamon stick, anise and cloves, to avoid upset with clueless diners.

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