Autumn Napa Cabbage Salad

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.

Napa Cabbage / Food Loves Writing

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
For the Dressing
  • 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


  1. 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.
  2. While the sweet potatoes and carrots roast, combine cabbage, onion, pecans, parsley, and pepper in a large bowl.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.


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About Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home,, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.

22 thoughts on “Autumn Napa Cabbage Salad”

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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. (!!!)

    • 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!

  4. 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!

  5. “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. 🙂

    • 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…

  6. 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!

    • 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!

  7. 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.

  8. 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.”

    • 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.

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