Napa Cabbage / Food Loves Writing

The main reason I am posting this recipe is because the Napa cabbage we’ve been getting in our farm share lately has convinced me there is no prettier vegetable on earth. From those lacy leaves to that ombre green color, Napa cabbage is seriously stunning. I don’t often pick up a vegetable simply because it looks nice—I mean, there was that one time—but if I were going to start doing it again, Napa would be the one. It’s a star. And talking about Napa cabbage’s beauty is worth talking about because, as far as lists go, Prettiest Vegetables is probably one of the only ones it’d make. I mean, when was the last time you ordered Napa cabbage at a restaurant? Received it on your plate when dining in the home of friends? Looked twice at it in the produce section and brought it home? What do you think about Napa cabbage, if you’ve tried it? Has it registered as something worth shouting about? The thing about Napa cabbage is, despite its curb appeal, it’s still cabbage. Roughage. A colon cleanser. That brings me to the second reason I am posting this recipe: It’s a good one for cleaning things out (and I don’t mean from your refrigerator).

Napa Cabbage Salad / Food Loves Writing

I haven’t talked about it a lot here, but at the beginning of 2013, Tim and I embarked on a series of cleanses. The process was a little intensive, the sort of thing you don’t talk about at the table (if you catch my drift), but the process was also good. In the thick of it, we did a series of short fasts interrupted by heavy vegetables, the idea being to cleanse (through fasting) and flush (through roughage). And still, this many months later, when I eat a plate piled high with a salad like this one, those cleanses are what I think of.

Napa Cabbage Salad / Food Loves Writing

Am I telling you you should eat this salad to cleanse your colon? Yes, I very well might be. But only as I also tell you to eat it for other reasons: To cheer for that sad but beautiful Napa cabbage, for example, the way you might root for the underdog football team; to make a meal that will make you feel wonderfully full, the way only cruciferous vegetables can do; or, there is this, because it tastes good.

I’ll leave which motivations matter to you up to you.

Autumn Napa Cabbage Salad


Serving Size: 4 to 6

This salad was inspired by the leftovers in our refrigerator and adapted from a Mark Bittman's recipe from Cooking Light. Note that I left the vegetable skins on (yay nutrients!); you, of course, could peel them before slicing if you like.


  • 1 pound sweet potato, unpeeled, sliced into strips/matchsticks
  • ½ pound carrots, unpeeled, sliced into strips/matchsticks
  • 2 tablespoon coconut oil
  • Pinches of sea salt
  • 4 cups ribboned Napa cabbage
  • 1 cup sliced onion
  • ¼ cup toasted pecan pieces
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley
  • 1 small (one-ounce) fresh pepper, seeded and diced
  • forthedressing
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Greek yogurt
  • Juice of one lime and half a lemon (about ¼ cup)
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons warm water, plus more as desired
  • squirt of siracha
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper


Preheat oven to 375F and melt a tablespoon of coconut oil in an 8 X 8 glass baking dish. Toss sweet potato strips with the oil and a pinch of sea salt in that dish; place dish in oven for 30 minutes. Repeat process in another dish with the carrot strips.

While the sweet potatoes and carrots roast, combine cabbage, onion, pecans, parsley, and pepper in a large bowl.

In a small bowl, make the dressing by combining olive oil, Greek yogurt, lemon and lime juices, honey, warm water, and siracha, whisking well. Taste the mixture and adjust to your liking --- add more water to thin it oil, more honey to sweeten, more siracha for a greater kick, etc.

When sweet potatoes and carrots are roasted, add them to the cabbage bowl. Drizzle dressing on top; keep adding until the salad is coated to your liking; you likely won't need all the dressing. Salt and pepper to taste.

Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 23 Comments

  1. Joanna

    I love everything about this post starting with and including “Yes, you are still at the right blog.”

    1. Shanna Mallon

      You! Every time you say something, there’s a little voice inside my head going, “Please rub off on me, please rub off on me.”

  2. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar

    I totally agree – I love the way cabbage looks when it’s still growing and the outside leaves bloom out like a rose…gorgeous! Also, this salad is fabulous. So much great fall stuff on one plate.

    1. Shanna Mallon

      I swooned over those leaves more times than I should probably admit. So. Pretty.

  3. Theresa

    HI Shanna, I, too, think Napa is a lovely vegetable to gaze upon. I like its taste, texture, and tensile strength – couldn’t help myself, alliteration is too much fun! My favorite use is in Pork Dumplings – rolled, steamed or pan-fried and consumed by a houseful of teenagers eager to eat the work of their hands.

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Haha! My father-in-law would love this comment. He is an alliteration king! : )

  4. Lawrence

    I love pecans in salad and Greek Yogurt dressing. I will give it a try. Keep the fire burning.

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Thank you, Lawrence! Hope you enjoy.

  5. sarah kate branine

    I SO wish that we could afford to fly you and Tim to our home for two weeks and hire you to be our personal trainers/cooking coaches/nutritionists for that time. When I read your posts, I’m usually all sittin’ here fat and sassy in my flannel pajamas, saying to myself, “I could make that! I could do a cleanse! I could maybe fast! I could probably not ever stop drinking my chai!” And it goes downhill from there.

    If you ever need to conduct a study on whole foods/cleanses we’re your people! : ) Also, our guest room has your name on it. (!!!)

    1. Shanna Mallon

      haha! I often sit in my pajamas, fat and sassy, reading blog posts, too. : ) I promise nothing we do is that impressive… it’s all about one small change after another, which is so encouraging to me in more areas than just food.

      And wouldn’t we love to come to your guest room someday!

  6. Skye

    I’ve never tried Napa cabbage before, but this looks absolutely delightful- I love the addition of pecans and sweet potatoes. I’m always looking for recipes that are good for you, but don’t compromise on taste – so this is perfect!

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Cool, Skye, I hope you enjoy it!

  7. Debora

    “And talking about Napa cabbage’s beauty is worth talking about because, as far as lists go, Prettiest Vegetables is probably one of the only ones it’d make.”

    Napa cabbages are a big deal in Chinese and Korean. Basic kimchi (the kind you see on Google Images if you search for “kimchi”) is made with Napa cabbages. Growing up, my mom would buy huge boxes of them, and spend hours splitting them up and turning them into kimchi (which then had to ferment for weeks). That’s still my favorite way to eat them. :-)

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Ha, Debora, I stand corrected! I am aware of kimchi (and its probiotics!) but still need help getting on board with taste. You’re so blessed to have grown up with it! Someday…

  8. Medha

    Shanna, Such a lovely post! Cabbage is my new found love this summer, of course after having so many “napa” cabbage in CSA box:) I love that its warm salad with roasted sweet potato and carrots – so healthy and delicious!

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Isn’t that so fun about CSAs? The way they expose to vegetables we’d otherwise overlook? I’ve thought it so often this year.. I’ll be sad when the share ends in December!

  9. Kathryn

    I don’t think that I’ve ever read such a delicately phrased post! We are big on colon cleansers in my family so I can see this salad going down a treat.

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Haha! Your family sounds awesome.

  10. Katy

    I really enjoy cabbage and sweet potatoes and peppers and I could keep going :). Definitely trying this soon. I will probably never again look at a head of napa cabbage without thinking of it as the “prettiest vegetable.”

    1. Shanna Mallon

      A vote for cabbage! I love it. I mean, I love your vote for it. Still growing to the point where I can say I really enjoy it. : ) Let me know how you like this when you try it! I’d love to hear.

  11. Tim F

    Mmmm… this looks delicious alright but in the handsome vegetable stakes I see your cabbage and raise you a curly kale!

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Haha! Curly kale’s a looker for sure.

  12. Pingback: The Ultimate Cruciferous Vegetables Recipe Round-up : Real Food RN

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