Braised Red Cabbage with Kielbasa & Forbidden Rice

Braised Red Cabbage with Kielbasa and Forbidden Rice
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Okay, this is admittedly an intensely moody dish for the first weekend of spring. I know everyone is busting out the verdant greens and sunny yellows. And here I am with a bruise of a bowl. But I can’t help it. Even in the dead of summer my favorite colors will always be purple, black, and pink. Black is always central to my aesthetic because it accentuates color so well. But in spite of my lack of enthusiasm, as we move towards sunnier palettes, I am happy to see the return of spring. Today’s Braised Red Cabbage with Kielbasa & Forbidden Rice may not reflect that, but please know I feel it in my heart.

Ingredients for Braised Red Cabbage

Okay, enough about my inability to organize my content calendar properly, let’s talk about this Braised Red Cabbage. This recipe is a little unusual because the color palette was the point of inspiration. An excellent account (@colorful.palate) I follow on Instagram posted a beautifully composed plate featuring a blood orange salad. It had all my favorites, purples, pinks, fuschias, all set on a sea of black. The moment I saw it, I knew this was the color family I wanted to play with next. So with the color scheme sorted, I just had to make the dish taste good.

Assembling the pickled red onions

I thought of the red cabbage first. When I was growing up, my mom and aunt used to make this braised red cabbage dish with dried currants. It always has a very pleasant tang, light sweetness, and tender bite that I was incredibly fond of, in spite of insisting I didn’t like cabbage. I was also partial to coleslaw and claimed I didn’t like cabbage. Yeah, I was fairly insufferable. The second the dish flew into my head I knew I was on to something. Braised red cabbage is so naturally vibrant and purple and luckily delicious. So, with one of the starring roles cast, the rest of the dish started to fall into place.

Placing red cabbage in the skillet for braising

Once I decided to go the braised cabbage route, it only made sense to lean into an Eastern European flavor palette. Well, sort of an Eastern European palette. There’s actually a lot of confusion happening here. The dill, yogurt, cabbage, kielbasa, and pickle, yes. But the forbidden rice? Nope, absolutely not. Forbidden rice is Chinese. It earned its moniker because it was considered the emperor’s rice. Today, it is increasingly available at grocery stores and is incredibly good for you. The rice is high in the antioxidant anthocyanin, which is where the rice gets its striking color from. Forbidden rice also boasts more fiber and protein than even brown rice. But I just chose it for its color because I am shallow.

Braised Red Cabbage with Raisins

There are no tricky bits in this recipe. Everything is easy enough to pull off on an average Tuesday. Yes, you do have to give the red onions some time to pickle. But you can easily pickle the onions days ahead of time, making this recipe an hour-long affair if your play your cards right. And braising pretty much anything requires very little effort on your part.

Braised Red Cabbage with Kielbasa and Forbidden Rice

I do feel I should address the inclusion of raisins. I don’t generally care for raisins, but I like them in Braised Red Cabbage. In fact, I like them in a few places. Currys, rice dishes, and chutneys. Anywhere where the raisins are introduced to heat and paired with something salty. I know chutneys are sweet but you generally eat them with something salty. I love raisins this way because they plump up and offer a sweet hit for contrast and balance. My dislike of raisins is more of a textural thing than a flavor thing. So braising raisins in vinegar until they’re plump is an A+ move for me. But if you still don’t believe me, ditch the raisins and add a little bit of honey to your cabbage for that hint of sweetness.

Braised Red Cabbage with Kielbasa and Forbidden Rice

So that’s everything you need to know about this Braised Red Cabbage with Kielbasa and Forbidden Rice. It’s simple, striking, and downright delicious. I’ll be back next week with something a little more seasonally appropriate. Until then.


Braised Red Cabbage with Kielbasa and Forbidden Rice

Braised Red Cabbage with Kielbasa & Forbidden Rice

A tangle of magenta-hued vinegar Braised Red Cabbage hunkers down with seared Kielbasa on a bed of tender forbidden rice. The moody dish is finished with vibrant wedges of pickled red onion.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Pickling Time 3 hours
Course Main Course
Servings 4


  • Large skillet
  • small saucepan


Pickled Red Onion

  • ½ red onion peeled and cut into wedges
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp mustard seed
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

Braised Red Cabbage with Kielbasa & Forbidden Rice

  • 1 cup forbidden rice
  • cup water
  • 2 cloves garlic smashed
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 250g (9oz) kielbasa sliced
  • ½ red onion diced
  • 2 tbsp Pernod optional
  • ½ head red cabbage chopped
  • ½ cup raisins
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 tbsp fresh dill finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp whole grain mustard
  • full-fat plain yogurt for topping
  • ¼ cup radish micro greens for sprinkling


For the Pickles

  • Place the red onions, bay leaves, and mustard seeds in a small bowl. Pour in the vinegar and enough water to fully immerse the onions. Add the salt and sugar and stir until nearly dissolved.
  • Cover the bowl and let pickle at room temperature for at least 3 hours. Transfer the onions to the fridge if you're pickling them more than 8 hours in advance.

For the Cabbage

  • Pour the rice into a small saucepan. Add the water, garlic, and kosher salt and place over high heat. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce a simmer. Cover and cook on low for 30 minutes or until the rice is tender and the liquid has been absorbed.
  • While the rice is cooking, pour the olive oil in a large skillet and heat over medium heat until shimmering. Add the kielbasa to the skillet and fry on both sides until golden. Transfer the kielbasa to a plate and set aside.
  • Add the onion to the skillet with a healthy pinch of salt. Reduce the heat to low and sweat the onions until translucent. Add the cabbage, raisins, bay leaves, vinegar, and water. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 25 minutes or until the cabbage is tender and the raisins are plump.
  • Return the kielbasa to the skillet and heat through. Take the cabbage off of the heat and stir in the dill and mustard. Taste and season with salt accordingly.
  • Spoon some of the forbidden rice into bowls and top with the braised cabbage. Garnish with pickled red onions, a dollop of yogurt, microgreens, and some additional dill. Serve immediately.
Keyword forbidden rice, kielbasa, red cabbage, red onion

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