Side Dishes

April 24, 2021

Brown Butter Cabbage Au Gratin

Recently, I came across a contest that Whole Foods was promoting. They were looking for the perfect holiday side dish for their world-class hot bar. I tossed around ideas for a few hours, okay, it was a few days, but I finally I landed on cabbage. Why did I choose cabbage? Here's a few;  cost (man, this inflation is crazy) and the ties to my childhood holiday meals with my Oma and Opa, but the biggest reason was that I don't believe cabbage gets nearly enough love. It is a versatile ingredient that can offer fantastic flavor when roasted or braised. It can hold up to the heat of a chafing dish. It will continue to taste comforting even after 45 minutes at the Whole Foods Hot Bar, making this Brown Butter Cabbage Au Gratin recipe a winner for any holiday gathering, small or large.

Inspired by the traditional Potato Au Gratin, I wanted to create a dish with a simple sauce that paired well with roasted bits of cabbage. The sauce flavors are brought to the forefront using a good amount of black pepper and dijon mustard, making it a perfect pairing for cabbage. Adding the topping is a crunchy, nutty bonus that makes this dish even yummier.

I know this doesn't seem traditional, but I promise it is tasty, and though there will forever be a place for potatoes at my dinner table, I think I will be subbing cabbage for a little while for a more vitamin-nutrient dish.

If you desire to make this Brown Butter Cabbage and Carrot Au Gratin dish but don't have the exact list of ingredients, I have offered some easy substitutes below. This basic recipe inspires you to create your version or just enjoy mine.

Green cabbage: brussels sprouts, bok choy, cauliflower, kale, chard, and savoy cabbage. You could use red cabbage, but your sauce will be pink.
Sweet onion: yellow Onion, red Onion, and shallot
Carrot: Squash, Parsnips, Daikon, and Rutabaga
Brown Butter: salted butter (but skip the salt in the sauce), olive oil, and vegan butter (but only the European Cultured Vegan Butter will brown)
Dijon: any grain mustard
Black Pepper: white pepper, red chili flake
Half and Half: heavy whipping cream, heavy cream, or whole milk. For a non-dairy substitute, try almond or soy (unflavored)
Gouda: extra sharp white cheddar, comte, gruyère, and fontina
Dried Parsley: Italian seasoning mix, fresh parsley, dill, cilantro, and chives
Parmesan cheese: asiago, gran padano, pecorino and romano
Panko: bread crumbs, butter crackers, mazto meal, and pork rind panko (a great option for keto and low carb lovers)
Salt: any type of salt can work here, kosher is just a preference.

You can also substitute cabbage wedges for chopped cabbage if you want a dish that looks a little more fancy, serving a single wedge to each guest.

Additionally, if you have a table of carnivores, add 1/4 cup of cooked bacon pieces to the cabbage, carrots, and onions for another layer of flavor.

Brown Butter Cabbage Au Gratin

Inspired by the traditional Potato Au Gratin, this dish brings all the comforts of that traditional holiday taste with a vitamin packed twist, cabbage.



8 tablespoons butter

1 medium head green cabbage, 1-inch dice
1/2 large sweet onion, thinly sliced on mandoline or with sharp knife
2 carrots, sliced diagonally, 1/4 inch thick

2 small garlic cloves, finely minced or grated
1 cup half & half
2 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Pinch of nutmeg (less than 1/8 teaspoon)
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves or 1 tablespoon fresh thyme sprigs, leaves only, finely chopped
1 cup gouda, shredded

3 tablespoons brown butter
2/3 cup panko crumbs
1/3 cup parmesan, grated
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper


Preheat oven to 375˚. Place one oven rack in the middle and one in the upper third of the oven.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, add the butter and let it cook until it begins to foam and brown bits start to form at the bottom of the pan, about 6 minutes. Add 3 tablespoons of brown butter to a small bowl and set aside.

Place the cut cabbage, carrots, and onions into a large mixing bowl and set aside.  

In a medium-sized bowl or 4-cup measuring pitcher, add the grated garlic, half and half, dijon, nutmeg, thyme, parsley salt, and pepper. Whisk until combined. Gently whisk in the remaining brown butter. Pour over the bowl of vegetables and gently toss. Place vegetables in an even layer on a large baking sheet. Sprinkle the shredded Gouda in an even layer over the vegetables. Place the sheet pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 15 minutes.

While the vegetables are baking, prepare the topping.

Add the panko, parmesan, parsley, salt, and pepper to the small bowl of brown butter. Mix until well combined.

After 15 minutes, remove the vegetables from the oven and gently mix, moving the vegetables around on the sheet pan. Add the panko topping in an even layer and return the vegetables to the middle rack of the oven; bake for an additional 15 minutes.

After the vegetables have become fork-tender, set the oven broiler to high, and place the sheet pan of vegetables on the upper third oven rack. Let the vegetables sit under the broiler for about 2-3 minutes, moving the sheet pan around so the panko doesn't burn. Remove the vegetables from the oven when the panko is toasted and bits of vegetables are lightly charred. Remove from oven and let cool for five minutes before serving.


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