Red Cabbage, Italian Style

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Red Cabbage - finish photo

Buon giorno!

 When one thinks of cabbage in Italian cuisine, the usual suspects come to mind: Ribollita, Black Cabbage, Verza, Cabbage with Beans, etc. RED CABBAGE, ITALIAN STYLE or Cavolo Cappuccio Rosso (used often in Northern Italy) is either not considered or remains in the background. This is kind of sad because aside from being a beautiful deeply colored vegetable, it is tasty, healthy , and makes a great side dish to so many meats.

In reality, you can do almost anything with red cabbage in Italian cooking that you might do with green cabbage. Sometimes I think you might even be able to do more, thinking of dishes where fruits or sweetness  are added to it.

So many uses – so little time! This recipe is so easy and very healthy! It uses a little Pancetta – but you can omit it if you don’t want to use meat. The finished product is a delicious side dish, with a touch of sweet and a touch of sour, that has so much flavor as to almost rival the meat course or entrée. The challenge is to serve it with a dish that can stand beside it and compliment without overpowering.

I especially like to serve it with pork dishes – perhaps tenderloin or loin, but it would be great with pork chops as well. I think the best Heritage pork is from Circle B Ranch – give it a look! The cabbage pairs well with game dishes also.

My very favorite way to serve it is with duck! For a great recipe for duck breast (or even the pork), try this: Duck Breast With Blackberries. This recipe is as easy as the cabbage!  The duck seems just made for it. Look here:

Duck iphone 2


Serves: 4-6

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 15-20 minutes


6 c. Sliced Red Cabbage

3 Tbsp. Olive Oil

1/4 lb. Chopped Pancetta

1 Medium Onion – sliced thinly

1/4 C. Sugar

1/4 C. Balsamic Vinegar

1 1/2 Tsp. Fennel Seed

1/2 C. Golden Raisins

Salt and Pepper to taste

Toasted Pignolis (pine nuts) for garnish


Cook pancetta in the oil for a couple of minutes.

Red Cabbage 1

Add the cabbage, onion, sugar, balsamic vinegar, fennel seed, and raisins.

Red Cabbage 2

Cook until cabbage and onion are tender – about 15-20 minutes.

Red Cabbage 3

The cabbage should still have some crunch to it.

Garnish with toasted pignolis and serve!

You’ll love this RED CABBAGE, ITALIAN STYLE! It is so easy to make – it will be your new “go-to” side dish!


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Food Photos By Tommy Hanks Photography

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  1. WHen do you put the balsamic vinegar in?

    • Leah – add it along with sugar, fennel seed etc. Thanks for catching this. The recipe has been corrected!

  2. Thanks! I have made this several times now and — WOW — it is delicious!