whole food ~ well made

Sausages with braised cabbage in a skillet

Smothered Cabbage & Sausage Skillet Supper

This recipe for smothered cabbage is one tasty illustration of what this overlooked, nutritious, cruciferous vegetable can do.

This is the time of year when I come to terms with the fact that salad season is over. Well, not over, but in transition.

No more of summer’s bounty of tender, loose leaf geen salads. I make the mental switch over to heartier choices–kale, of course, radicchio and cabbage.

A head of green cabbage takes up residence in my crisper drawer. Most often, it’s called up for a quick slaw for taco night.

But, it’s time to give this cruciferous, nutritious and overlooked vegetable more credit for all it can do.

Cooking with Cabbage

Raw, cabbage is more than a side of slaw. It’s also quick filler for a stir fry, a fresh topping for ramen or stape for a humble potato soup. It can also be the starting point for an inspired winter salad–green, red or other varieties like Savoy and Napa.

But then, there is cooked cabbage. Sauteed and braised are the most common. I had an epiphany when I browned thick wedges and made this caramelized cabbage gratin. It deserves a place at any special occasion.

There are so many reasons to keep cabbage on hand when you’re scrambling to make dinner.

  • keeps for months–just peel away outer leaves or cut off any discolored parts
  • simple to prep–slice in half, then trim out the core
  • easy to use–use a sharp knife to get thin slices {called chiffonade, pictured above}

This smothered cabbage and sausage skillet supper is one way to highlight all the cabbage can offer. And it uses a whole head.

What is Smothered Cabbage?

The technique comes from Italian cookbook author Marcella Hazan who called her Venetian cabbage dish “smothered” {sofegao in Venetian} in The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking.

My dear friend Paula introduced me to smothered cabbage when we were cooking together for a big winter event. I never forgot that lesson.

In short, shredded cabbage is slow-cooked in olive oil. A little onion, some salt and a splash of vinegar round out the flavors.

Heat and time are the main ingredients that make all the difference. Cabbage transformed.

It is one of those essential–yet simple–cooking methods that wakes us up to the fact that food doesn’t have to be complicated. As it cooks down, taste for seasoning and be generous with the black pepper.

Easy Skillet Supper

I love learning how this cabbage dish has Italian roots. I’ve sped up the slow cooking time and added sausages to make an easy fall family meal.

For a weeknight supper, I sped up the cooking time for the cabbage. But you can also slow things down, since this is a make-ahead meal that can wait over warm heat until everyone is ready for dinner. {With sports schedules around here, it’s a little unpredictable.}

What kind of sausages? That is totally up to you!

There are so many options available now. I tried this dish with a range of traditional and plant-based sausages. Since all of them are fully cooked, I just snuggled them into the smothered cabbage and covered the skillet to heat them through.

With a side of good mustard, it’s a true one-dish meal that will take us all through the fall and winter until next spring’s growing season.


and become a forager

Now are you cooking cabbage this season? Let me know in the comments below or tag a photo #lynnesforage on Instagram or Facebook.

Smothered Cabbage with Sausage

Slow cooking cabbage in olive oil reveals a whole new dimension to this ever-ready vegetable. This recipe is adapted from Marcella Hazan's Italian "smothered" cabbage–a whole head cooked down with onion, garlic and a hit of vinegar. I have turned it into a complete skillet supper with the addition of sausages–any fully cooked sausage type or brand works. Just add your favorite mustard.
Course Main Course
Cuisine German
Keyword smothered cabbage
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings 4 people
Author lynnes


  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium green cabbage (about 2 pounds)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, plus additional to taste
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 4 sausage, fully cooked, any type meat, tofu or plant-based


  • Finely shred cabbage with a sharp chef's knife or in a food processor.
  • Heat the olive oil in a 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it starts turning golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until it becomes fragrant.
  • Pile on all of the cabbage, salt and pepper and toss to coat it in the oil. Cook until the cabbage is wilted, about 4 minutes.
  • Reduce the heat to low, add the vinegar and stir well. Cover the skillet with a large pot lid or foil. Cook until the cabbage is cooked down and is beginning to brown, about 30 minutes. Taste for seasoning.
  • Nestle the sausages into the cabbage, cover and cook until they are heated through, about 15 minutes more. Over warm heat or in a low oven, this dish will hold when covered until ready to serve.

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