Warm Cabbage and Green Beans Recipe

By Marcus Samuelsson |

One of my philosophies is that you don’t have to be a vegetarian to eat meat-free.  It is good for the system to cleanse. Last Wednesday Elaine Louie of The New York Times shared one of my vegetarian recipes in her column, “The Temporary Vegetarian.”

Cabbage is often snubbed because people have tasted over-cooked and unappetizing preparations.  It also has a relation in people’s minds to poverty, but when cooked correctly, it can melt in your mouth, tasting rich and buttery.

My recipe for Warm Cabbage and Green Beans takes its cue from Ethiopian cuisine, and it’s spices and subtle flavors combine to make a hearty, delicious vegetarian meal.

And, in keeping with my second-day food philosophy, helping to make our kitchens more sustainable by wasting less, Ms. Louie remarks that “it also tastes even better the second day, and the third.”

Eat this with traditional injera, the national bread of Ethiopia, which is made with teff flour.  You can pick up injera at your local Ethiopian or Eritrean restaurant.  Or, make white or brown rice to serve with the dish.

As published by Elaine Louie in the New York Times

Prep Details

Servings: 4-6

Total time: 2 hours


For the Cabbage and Green Beans:

1 lb cabbage or Napa cabbage, thinly sliced or shredded

1 medium red onion, thinly sliced

3 cups cherry tomatoes, or 5 large tomatoes

7 oz chopped canned tomatoes

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tbsp mustard seeds

1 tbsp nigella sativa seeds(available in specialty stores)

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp berbere(available in specialty stores) or chili powder

1/2 tsp ground cardamom, preferably freshly ground

1 3-inch piece ginger, peeled and grated

3 cups green beans, trimmed and cut in half

1/2 tsp salt

Injera(available at Ethiopian or Eritrean restaurants) or rice, for serving, optional.

For the Spiced Butter

8 oz clarified butteror ghee

1/2 cup coarsely chopped red onion

1 garlic clove, minced

1 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped

1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp cardamom seeds

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/4 tsp ground turmeric

4 basil leaves


1. To make the spiced butter: Melt butter in a medium saucepan over low heat, and add onion, garlic, ginger, fenugreek, cumin, cardamom, oregano, turmeric and basil. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let stand until spices settle, about 10 minutes, then strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a heat-proof bowl. It may be stored in a tightly covered container for up to 3 weeks.

2. To make the cabbage and green beans: Melt 1/2 cup spiced butter in a 12-to-14-inch saute pan over medium heat. Add cabbage and sliced onion, and saute until the cabbage is wilted, about 5 minutes. Add fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes, garlic, mustard seeds, nigella seeds, turmeric, berbere, cardamom and ginger. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until soft and fragrant, about 30 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, pour 6 cups water into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Set aside a bowl of ice water. Add green beans to boiling water, reduce heat to low and simmer until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain, plunge beans into ice water until chilled, then drain again.

4. Fold green beans into tomatoes and cabbage. Simmer until the beans take on flavors of the spiced sauce, about 10 minutes. Adjust salt to taste. If desired, serve with injera or rice.