Crispy Cabbage With Poppy Seeds From 'The New Midwestern Table'

Crispy Cabbage With Poppy Seeds From 'The New Midwestern Table'

[Photograph: Jennifer May]

Amy Thielen's recently released cookbook, The New Midwestern Table, has more than a few recipes involving cabbage. (This fact is not terribly surprising, given the hardy vegetable's ability to withstand even the harshest of Midwestern winters.) Most are simple, familiar preparations—steamed, simmered, and slawed. But one rendition in particular caught my eye: A crisp, sautéed version flecked with poppy seeds and scented with ginger sounded light, fresh, and a flavorful contrast to a hearty hotdish or roast.

Why I picked this recipe: I am a big fan of any cabbage-y vegetable once it gets a good sear on it. Throw in ghee and ginger, and I'm even happier.

What worked: I loved the pop of the poppy and sesame seeds amongst the cabbage leaves. Sautéing the cabbage in ghee was a genius move—it adds the warm richness of butter without risking burning.

What didn't: Unless you have a giant, 14-inch-plus skillet, you will definitely want to cook the cabbage in batches to avoid steaming.

Suggested tweaks: You could use any brassica in place of the cabbage here. Brussels sprouts or cauliflower would be especially good.

Reprinted with permission from The New Midwestern Table: 200 Heartland Recipes by Amy Thielen. Copyright 2013. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.

  • Yield:Serves 4 to 6
  • Active time: 25 minutes
  • Total time:25 minutes


  • 5 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 8 cups shredded cabbage
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons poppy seeds
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  1. 1.

    First, make the ghee: Put the butter in a small pan, bring it to a simmer, and cook until it turns brown at the edges, 3 to 4 minutes. Let the butter sit for a minute. Then tilt the pan and carefully skim off the solidified top crust with a spoon, taking care to remove as much of this stiff white froth as possible. Put it in a small dish. Pour the clear golden butter into another small dish, and pour the darker brown dregs at the bottom of the pan into the dish containing the froth. This can be done well ahead of time, even a day or two before; ghee keeps well in the refrigerator.

  2. 2.

    Ready your seasonings, because once the cooking starts, it will go fast.

  3. 3.

    Heat your very widest skillet over high heat. Seriously, it should be almost comically oversize for this amount of cabbage. If you have nothing larger than a regulation 10-incher, you should probably cook this in two batches to avoid steaming—instead of lightly charring—the cabbage.

  4. 4.

    When the skillet is hot, add the ghee and the ginger. The ginger should fry immediately. Dump in the cabbage and stir.

  5. 5.

    Add the garlic, thyme, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, salt, and pepper. Spread the cabbage out evenly and continue to fry over very high heat, stirring every 45 seconds or so, giving the cabbage time to caramelize on the bottom. Watch that it doesn’t actually burn, but let it get a little dark on the edges. Cook until the cabbage has lost its raw taste but before it goes completely limp, about 5 minutes. Add the reserved butter froth, stir to combine, turn out into a serving dish, and serve immediately.