22 Mar 2023: Charred Cabbage Smothered in Tomato Gravy Over Grits

I was determined that this was going to be the year that I used up the ENTIRE cabbage.

And so, I went in search of leftover cabbage recipes. Fortunately, my search took place the day after St. Patrick’s Day when I understand a lot of folks like to boil the heck out of cruciferous vegetables (and meat). Apparently, I am not alone in having too much raw cabbage.

While the original recipe, found in the Washington Post’s Weeknight Vegetarian column, uses grits, I substituted polenta. In an effort to make this work, I cooked the polenta prior to starting the cabbage gravy which turns out was a good decision. Too many things going on all at once is not my forte.

We enjoyed this dish – and the leftovers too – and, I’m happy to say, no cabbage was lost to the compost this week.

Charred Cabbage Smothered in Tomato Gravy Over Grits

Recipe by Washington Post Staff Writer, Jim Webster


  • 4 c water
  • 1 c grits (not quick-cooking or instant) (I used polenta. Cook according to package)
  • 1 tsp fine salt, divided
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 pound green cabbage (1/2 medium head), thinly sliced
  • 2 T apple cider vinegar
  • 1 small red or yellow onion (about 4 ounces), thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or finely grated
  • One (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 1 T smoked paprika (make sure the paprika is SMOKED paprika)
  • 1 C unsalted vegetable broth
  • 2 T unsalted butter
  • Ground black pepper


  1. IF USING GRITS: In a medium pot over high heat, bring the water to a boil. Slowly add the grits, then 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and stir. Let the water return to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Partially cover and cook, stirring frequently and scraping the bottom of the pot to prevent sticking, until thick and tender, 25 to 30 minutes. 
  2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil until it shimmers and just starts to smoke. Add the cabbage, arrange it in an even layer and cook without moving it until it begins to char, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir and let more of the cabbage char, another 2 to 3 minutes. There should be blackened spots.
  3. Add the vinegar and toss to coat. Transfer about 1 cup of the cabbage to a plate and reserve. Push the rest of the cabbage to one side of the pan. 
  4. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic, and cook until aromatic, about 1 minute.
  5. (NOTE: Adding the liquid to the very hot pan may result in splatters – be ready) Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, paprika, broth and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and stir to combine.
  6. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat so the mixture is at a simmer and cook until chunky and soupy, 15 to 20 minutes. 
  7. Stir in the butter. 
  8. Divide the grits (or polenta) among wide, shallow bowls, forming a well in the middle. Fill each well with the tomato gravy, then top each portion with some of the reserved cabbage.
  9. Season with pepper and serve hot.

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