Roasted Cabbage with Muhamarra and Tahini

Read more about hearty vegetable-based fare in "Where the Vegetables are the Stars."

Every bite of this cabbage is an explosion of dramatic flavors and layers of texture. Lightly charred outside and melt-in-your-mouth tender within, it is meant to be eaten scooped upwith the creamy, spicy muhamarra, rich with roasted red pepper and tomatoes, and subtly nutty from hazelnuts and a tahini drizzle. At his eponymous restaurant Shaya, Chef Alon Shaya first cooks the cabbage sous-vide, then caramelizes it in a wood-burning oven. In this home cook’s version that he developed for JW, he notes that "basically, this combination of poaching and then roasting in the oven at high heat will give the same effect as the sous vide version we use at the restaurant.”

Serves about 8

photo by Randy Schmidt

photo by Randy Schmidt

INGREDIENTS

For the cabbage

  • 6½ cups cold water
  • 2⅓ cups white wine
  • 4 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 whole bay leaf
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 4 teaspoons crushed red chili flakes
  • 2½ teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, unsalted
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 heads of cabbage, cut into quarters

For the muhamarra

  • 1¾ cups extra virgin olive oil
  • I yellow onion, shaved thin
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons Aleppo pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 can whole, peeled tomatoes (28 ounces)
  • 6 whole roasted red peppers, diced
  • ½ pound hazelnuts, skinless
  • 1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses

For the tahini sauce

  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 4 cloves unpeeled garlic
  • 1⅔ cups raw tahini
  • ⅓ cup ice water
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • Coarse sea salt and extra virgin olive oil for serving

DIRECTIONS

Prepare the muhamarra

Heat ¼ cup olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the onions, garlic, and salt, and cook until opaque. Add 1 tablespoon Aleppo pepper, the cumin, coriander, and paprika. Stir for one minute and deglaze with the vinegar. Reduce the vinegar until almost dry, then add the tomatoes and roasted peppers. Reduce the heat to low and stir constantly to cook most of the water out until mixture resembles a paste. While cooking, smash the tomatoes with a spoon to release the juice. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Toast the hazelnuts in a 350°F oven for 10 minutes until golden brown, and let cool.

In a food processor, combine the hazelnuts, roasted pepper mixture, remaining 2 tablespoons Aleppo pepper, 1½ cups olive oil, and pomegranate molasses. The mixture should emulsify into a thick paste. If it doesn't fully emulsify, refrigerate it for one hour, then whip with a whisk in a mixing bowl.

Make the tahini sauce

Crush the unpeeled garlic cloves with a knife and place in a blender with the lemon juice. Blend on highest setting for 3 minutes. Once blended, let mixture rest for 30 minutes, then strain through fine mesh strainer. Place tahini in a stand mixer with whip attachment and whip for 5 minutes on high speed, adding ⅔ cup of the garlic-lemon juice slowly while whipping the tahini. Next, slowly add the ice water and salt. Occasionally stop the mixer and scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula to ensure even mixing. Thin the sauce with additional ¼ cup cold water if necessary.

Prepare the cabbage

Preheat oven to 550°F, or its highest setting. In a 4-quart saucepan, combine all the ingredients along with the cabbage. Place on medium heat and bring to simmer. Cook for approximately 15 minutes or until you can easily insert a knife through the center. You want to be careful not to overcook it, or it will fall apart when you try to remove it from the pan. Using a slotted spoon, carefully remove the cabbage from the poaching liquid and arrange on a baking sheet. Roast until golden all over the top. To serve, drizzle with a little coarse sea salt, extra virgin olive oil, and tahini sauce, and spoon a generous pool of the muhamarra alongside.