Spice Up Your Holiday Table Red Cabbage and Bacon Recipe

Red cabbage and bacon may seem like humble ingredients, but in the hands of renowned chef Jamie Oliver, they are transformed into a festive dish that can elevate any holiday table. Jamie Oliver, a celebrated figure in modern cooking, has consistently charmed food enthusiasts around the world with his approachable, innovative recipes and passionate advocacy for healthy, sustainable eating. His influence extends beyond the kitchen, shaping the way people think about food and its impact on wellness and the environment.

In his “Jamie Oliver’s Christmas Cookbook,” Jamie turns his attention to the joys of the holiday season, providing readers with a treasure trove of recipes designed to bring warmth, cheer, and delicious flavors to their celebrations. Among the standout dishes in this collection is the Red Cabbage with Crispy Smoked Bacon and Rosemary. This recipe is a testament to Jamie’s ability to revitalize traditional holiday fare with a twist, making it both modern and surprisingly simple to prepare.

What sets this red cabbage recipe apart is its perfect blend of savory and sweet elements, enhanced by the smoky richness of bacon and the aromatic freshness of rosemary. Unlike the often overlooked traditional boiled cabbage dishes, Jamie’s version is vibrant and textured, promising to be a pleasure both to cook and to serve. Moreover, the addition of ingredients like fennel seeds, prunes, and a splash of balsamic vinegar lends depth and complexity to the dish, ensuring that it stands out as a memorable side that complements any main course.

Through this recipe, Jamie Oliver not only celebrates the versatility and affordability of red cabbage but also encourages home cooks to experiment with flavors and embrace the festive spirit of the season. The recipe is more than just a side dish; it’s a festive statement that pays homage to traditional tastes while embracing contemporary culinary trends.

ChefJamie Oliver
BookJamie Oliver’s Christmas Cookbook
Focus DishRed Cabbage with Crispy Smoked Bacon and Rosemary
Recipe CharacteristicsSavory and sweet, with ingredients like fennel seeds, prunes, and balsamic vinegar
Cooking PhilosophyApproachable and innovative recipes; advocacy for healthy, sustainable eating
InfluenceShaping how people think about food, wellness, and environmental impact
Seasonal ThemeEmbracing festive spirit and revitalizing traditional holiday fare

Overview of the Recipe

Quick facts

  • Difficulty Level: Easy
  • Serving Size: Serves 8-10 as a side
  • Total Preparation and Cooking Time: 35 minutes

Summary of the Dish’s Appeal
Jamie Oliver’s Red Cabbage with Crispy Smoked Bacon and Rosemary recipe is a brilliant reinvention of a classic side dish. Traditional red cabbage recipes often lack excitement, typically simmered to a soft texture with minimal seasoning. However, Jamie Oliver’s version is anything but ordinary. By incorporating crispy smoked bacon, fresh rosemary, and a tangy touch of balsamic vinegar, this dish not only maintains the beloved earthy base of red cabbage but also introduces a new layer of textures and flavors. The addition of fennel seeds and prunes provides a subtle aniseed flavor balanced with sweetness, transforming the simple red cabbage into a complex and hearty accompaniment to any festive meal.

The dish’s quick cooking time and ease of preparation make it an excellent choice for holiday cooking, where oven space is precious and time is of the essence. Its bright, vibrant colors and robust flavors also make it an attractive addition to the holiday table, promising to be as much a conversation piece as it is a culinary delight.

Difficulty LevelEasy
Serving SizeServes 8-10 as a side
Total Preparation and Cooking Time35 minutes
Key IngredientsRed cabbage, smoked bacon, rosemary, balsamic vinegar, fennel seeds, prunes
Dish’s AppealVibrant, textured, and robust flavors; a modern twist on traditional red cabbage; quick and easy preparation

Why Choose This Recipe for Your Christmas Table?

Red cabbage is not only economical but also a nutritional powerhouse, packed with vitamins C and K, and high in fiber. It provides a healthful boost during the winter months, supporting the immune system and aiding in digestion. Choosing this recipe allows you to offer a dish that is not only cost-effective but also beneficial for the health of your guests, which is particularly appealing during the indulgent holiday season.

One of the most appealing aspects of this red cabbage recipe is its versatility. It can be served hot, right after cooking, with its flavors bold and the bacon at its crispiest. However, it is equally delicious served cold, making it a perfect addition to the holiday buffet table where it can be enjoyed alongside cold cuts and cheeses. This flexibility also makes it an excellent choice for leftovers, providing a tasty option for post-Christmas meals.

This red cabbage recipe pairs wonderfully with a variety of Christmas dishes. Its rich, tangy flavors complement the savory notes of roasted meats, such as turkey, ham, or beef, cutting through the fattiness and richness of traditional holiday fare. The crispy bacon and aromatic rosemary in the recipe echo the hearty, festive flavors found in other side dishes, such as stuffing and roasted vegetables, creating a harmonious dining experience. Additionally, the hint of sweetness from the apples and prunes offers a balance that enhances lighter dishes, like salads and seafood, making this side dish a universal enhancer to the Christmas meal palette.

Incorporating Jamie Oliver’s Red Cabbage with Crispy Smoked Bacon and Rosemary into your Christmas menu not only brightens the table with its vivid colors and robust aroma but also provides a comforting yet sophisticated element that guests are sure to remember. It’s a testament to how traditional ingredients can be reimagined in ways that respect their roots while delighting contemporary palates, making every bite a celebration of the season.

Nutritional ValueHigh in vitamins C and K, fiber; supports immune system and aids digestion.
Cost-EffectivenessEconomical ingredient, provides health benefits during indulgent holiday season.
VersatilityCan be served hot or cold; suitable for holiday buffets and leftovers.
Flavor CompatibilityComplements roasted meats and festive dishes; balances lighter meals with its tangy, sweet notes.
Visual and Aromatic AppealVivid colors and robust aroma enhance the holiday table; comforting yet sophisticated presence.
Culinary PhilosophyReimagines traditional ingredients in a contemporary way, celebrating festive flavors.

Ingredients Needed

To prepare Jamie Oliver’s Red Cabbage with Crispy Smoked Bacon and Rosemary, you’ll need the following ingredients:

1 red cabbage (approximately 1kg): Choose a firm, dense head with vibrant, crisp leaves.

4 rashers of higher-welfare smoked streaky bacon: This type of bacon adds a rich, smoky flavor that is pivotal to the dish’s character.

Olive oil: Just enough for cooking, about one tablespoon.

2 eating apples: The sweetness of the apples contrasts nicely with the savory elements.

2 sprigs of fresh rosemary: This herb infuses the dish with a distinctive, aromatic flavor.

1 heaped teaspoon of fennel seeds: Adds a slight aniseed flavor that complements the cabbage beautifully.

100g dried prunes: Introduce a natural sweetness and texture.

1 clementine: For zest and juice, adding a fresh, citrusy note.

6 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar: Provides a sweet and tangy element that ties all the flavors together.

Possible Substitutions

Bacon: If higher-welfare smoked streaky bacon is unavailable, any good-quality smoked bacon will suffice. Alternatively, for a vegetarian version, smoked paprika could be used to mimic the smokiness.

Apples: While any eating apple can be used, varieties like Honeycrisp or Gala are recommended for their sweet, crisp texture. If these are unavailable, pears could be a suitable substitute.

Prunes: Dried cherries or cranberries can be used as alternatives, offering a different but equally festive flavor.

IngredientDescriptionPossible Substitutions
Red cabbage (1kg)Firm, dense head with vibrant, crisp leavesN/A
Smoked streaky bacon (4 rashers)Higher-welfare, adds rich smoky flavorAny good-quality smoked bacon or smoked paprika for vegetarian version
Olive oil (1 tablespoon)For cookingN/A
Eating apples (2)Sweet, contrasts with savory elementsHoneycrisp, Gala, or pears as alternatives
Fresh rosemary (2 sprigs)Distinctive, aromatic flavorN/A
Fennel seeds (1 heaped teaspoon)Slight aniseed flavorN/A
Dried prunes (100g)Natural sweetness and textureDried cherries or cranberries
Clementine (1)For zest and juice, adds fresh citrusy noteN/A
Balsamic vinegar (6 tablespoons)Sweet and tangy elementN/A

Step-by-Step Cooking Instructions


Prepare the Cabbage: Remove any tatty outer leaves from the red cabbage, trim off the base, and cut it into wedges. Then, finely slice the cabbage and set it aside.

Crisp the Bacon: Cut the bacon into fine slices. Place them in a large casserole pan with a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Allow the bacon to crisp up, stirring occasionally to ensure even cooking.

Add Herbs and Apples: Once the bacon is crispy, strip the leaves from the rosemary sprigs and add them to the pan. Stir for about a minute. Then, using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon and rosemary, setting them aside on a plate while leaving the bacon fat in the pan. Peel, core, and dice the apples, adding them to the pan along with the fennel seeds. Tear the prunes into smaller pieces, removing any stones, and add them to the pan.

Cooking the Cabbage: Continue to cook the apples and prunes for a couple of minutes, then add the zest of one clementine and squeeze in the juice. Pour in the balsamic vinegar, followed by the finely sliced cabbage. Season with a pinch of sea salt and black pepper. Cover the pan with a lid slightly ajar and simmer on a low heat for 20-25 minutes, stirring every five minutes. The cabbage should become tender yet still retain some texture.

Tips for Perfect Cooking

Stirring: Regular stirring is essential to prevent the cabbage from sticking to the pan and to ensure that the flavors meld beautifully.

Heat Control: Maintain a gentle simmer; high heat can cause the cabbage to become mushy.

Presentation and Garnishing:

Serving: Transfer the cooked cabbage to a serving dish. Sprinkle over the crispy bacon and rosemary for a flavorful and aromatic topping.

Garnish: For an extra touch of color and freshness, garnish with a few sprigs of fresh rosemary or a sprinkle of finely grated clementine zest.

Following these detailed steps and tips will help you master this festive dish, ensuring that each element—from the tender, flavorful cabbage to the crisply fried bacon and aromatic rosemary—is perfectly prepared, making it a standout addition to your holiday feast.

Prepare the CabbageRemove tatty outer leaves, trim the base, cut into wedges, and finely slice.N/A
Crisp the BaconCut bacon into fine slices and fry in a casserole pan with olive oil until crispy.Stir occasionally for even cooking.
Add Herbs and ApplesAdd rosemary leaves, remove bacon and rosemary, then add diced apples, fennel seeds, and torn prunes.Use a slotted spoon to keep bacon fat in the pan.
Cooking the CabbageAdd clementine zest and juice, balsamic vinegar, and cabbage. Simmer for 20-25 minutes.Stir every five minutes to prevent sticking and maintain a gentle simmer.
Presentation and GarnishingServe the cabbage with sprinkled crispy bacon and rosemary. Garnish with fresh rosemary or clementine zest.Ensure the bacon is added last for crispiness.

Serving Suggestions

Jamie Oliver’s Red Cabbage with Crispy Smoked Bacon and Rosemary is a versatile dish that can complement a variety of main courses, making it a perfect addition to any holiday table. Here are some ideas for dishes that pair well with this red cabbage recipe, along with tips on how to serve it both as a hot side dish and as a cold salad-like accompaniment.

Pairing Ideas

Roasted Meats: The rich, smoky flavors of the bacon and the tangy sweetness of the balsamic vinegar make this red cabbage recipe an ideal match for roasted meats. Serve it alongside a roast turkey, glazed ham, or beef rib roast. The acidity and sweetness of the cabbage cut through the richness of the meat, balancing the meal.

Grilled Seafood: For a lighter pairing, this red cabbage works beautifully with grilled seafood, such as salmon or sea bass. The fresh flavors of the rosemary and clementine bring out the natural taste of the fish, creating a harmonious blend of flavors.

Vegetarian Dishes: It’s also a great side for vegetarian mains, such as roasted butternut squash or a hearty vegetable pie. The robust flavors of the cabbage provide a satisfying depth that complements vegetarian dishes well.

Serving Hot or Cold

As a Hot Side Dish: Serve the red cabbage warm, with the bacon and rosemary freshly sprinkled on top. This method allows the smoky flavors of the bacon to permeate the dish, offering a cozy, comforting side that’s perfect for chilly winter evenings.

As a Cold Salad-Like Accompaniment: Alternatively, allow the cooked cabbage to cool and then refrigerate it. Serve it chilled as part of a holiday buffet or as a salad-like accompaniment to cold cuts and cheeses. This is a great way to enjoy the dish as part of a more relaxed, boxing-day meal where the flavors have melded and matured overnight, providing a different but equally delicious taste experience.

Pairing/Serving OptionDescriptionBenefits
Roasted MeatsServe alongside roast turkey, glazed ham, or beef rib roast.Cuts through the richness of meats with its acidity and sweetness, balancing the meal.
Grilled SeafoodIdeal with salmon or sea bass.Enhances natural tastes of fish with fresh flavors of rosemary and clementine.
Vegetarian DishesComplements roasted butternut squash or a hearty vegetable pie.Provides satisfying depth and robust flavors to vegetarian meals.
As a Hot Side DishServe warm with freshly sprinkled bacon and rosemary on top.Offers a cozy, comforting side perfect for chilly evenings.
As a Cold Salad-Like AccompanimentServe chilled as part of a holiday buffet or with cold cuts and cheeses.Allows flavors to meld and mature, offering a relaxed and tasty option for leftovers.

Make Ahead Tips

Preparing holiday meals can be a hectic endeavor. Fortunately, this red cabbage dish is ideal for making ahead, which not only saves time but can also enhance the flavors. Here are some tips on how to prepare this dish a day ahead and reheat it effectively without losing texture or flavor.

Preparing a Day Ahead

Cook as Instructed: Prepare the red cabbage dish according to the recipe instructions. However, you might consider undercooking it slightly (by about 5 minutes) if you plan to reheat it the next day. This helps to maintain a good texture.

Store Properly: Allow the dish to cool completely before transferring it to an airtight container. Refrigerate it overnight. This step is crucial for food safety and quality.


Reheat Gently: To reheat, place the cabbage in a saucepan over low heat. Add a splash of water or additional balsamic vinegar to prevent it from drying out. Cover the pan and allow the cabbage to heat through gently. Stir occasionally to ensure even warming without overcooking.

Restoring Crispness: If the bacon and rosemary were added the day before, they might have softened in the fridge. To restore some of the texture, you can briefly sauté additional bacon and rosemary in a small pan and then sprinkle them over the top of the dish after reheating.

Serve Warm: Once heated through, transfer the cabbage to a serving dish and, if necessary, top with the freshly crisped bacon and rosemary. This will ensure that the dish retains its appealing texture and vibrant flavors.

By following these serving suggestions and make-ahead tips, you can not only manage your cooking time more efficiently but also ensure that Jamie Oliver’s Red Cabbage with Crispy Smoked Bacon and Rosemary is a delightful addition to your holiday feasting, offering both convenience and culinary flair.

StepInstructionsKey Notes
Preparing a Day AheadCook as instructed but undercook by about 5 minutes.Helps to preserve texture for reheating.
Store ProperlyCool completely, then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.Ensures safety and maintains quality.
ReheatingGently reheat in a saucepan with a splash of water or balsamic vinegar.Prevents drying out; stir occasionally for even heating.
Restoring CrispnessSauté additional bacon and rosemary if needed and sprinkle on top after reheating.Restores texture and enhances flavor.
Serve WarmTransfer to a serving dish and top with freshly crisped bacon and rosemary.Ensures the dish is appealing and flavorful upon serving.

Nutritional Information

Jamie Oliver’s Red Cabbage with Crispy Smoked Bacon and Rosemary is not only a flavorful addition to your holiday table but also contributes some important nutritional benefits. Here is a detailed breakdown of the nutritional content per serving, based on an estimated serving size for 8-10 people:

Calories: Approximately 96 kcal per serving, making it a relatively low-calorie option for a side dish.

Fat: About 2.6 grams, with only 0.4 grams of saturated fat, contributing to its status as a heart-healthy choice.

Protein: Each serving provides around 2.4 grams of protein, essential for muscle repair and growth.

Carbohydrates: Contains about 16.2 grams, with 15.6 grams coming from sugars, mostly natural sugars from the apples and prunes.

Fiber: With 3 grams of fiber per serving, this dish is beneficial for digestive health.

Salt: Contains about 0.4 grams of salt per serving, making it a moderate option in terms of sodium content.

Vitamins and Minerals: Red cabbage is a rich source of vitamin C, essential for the immune system, especially beneficial during the cold season. It also provides vitamin K, important for bone health, and antioxidants that help reduce inflammation and promote overall health.

This dish is a good choice for those looking to enjoy a hearty, tasty side dish without consuming too many calories or fats. Its high vitamin content and presence of fiber also make it a nutritious option that can balance out the richer foods commonly served during the holidays.

NutrientAmount per ServingHealth Benefits
CaloriesApproximately 96 kcalLow-calorie, suitable for managing energy intake.
Fat2.6 grams (Saturated: 0.4 grams)Heart-healthy, low in saturated fats.
Protein2.4 gramsEssential for muscle repair and growth.
Carbohydrates16.2 grams (Sugars: 15.6 grams)Provides energy; sugars mostly from natural sources.
Fiber3 gramsSupports digestive health.
Salt0.4 gramsModerate sodium content.
Vitamins and MineralsRich in vitamin C and K, antioxidantsBoosts immune system, supports bone health, and reduces inflammation.

Where to Buy the Cookbook

For those inspired to try more of Jamie Oliver’s festive recipes, his “Jamie Oliver’s Christmas Cookbook” is a treasure trove of culinary ideas perfect for the holiday season. Here’s how you can purchase your own copy:

Amazon: As one of the largest online retailers, Amazon offers both new and used copies of the book. It’s a convenient option with potential for quick shipping. Amazon Link

Hive: Supporting local bookshops is more important than ever, and purchasing from Hive allows you to contribute to local businesses while obtaining the cookbook. Hive offers competitive pricing and home delivery. Hive Link

Waterstones: A staple for book lovers, Waterstones provides a wide range of books, including Jamie Oliver’s cookbooks. You can order online or check the availability at nearby stores to pick it up in person. Waterstones Link

Penguin Random House: Purchasing directly from the publisher, Penguin Random House, ensures that you get a copy straight from the source. They often offer special editions or bundles that might not be available elsewhere. Penguin Random House Link

Special Editions and Related Merchandise

Keep an eye out for any special editions or related merchandise that may be released, especially during the holiday season. Special editions might include additional recipes or features like premium cover designs or bonus content. Jamie Oliver’s website and social media channels are good sources for announcements on limited edition releases and merchandise like branded kitchen tools or aprons, which could enhance your cooking experience.

Whether you are a seasoned cook looking to expand your holiday menu or a beginner wanting to try something new, “Jamie Oliver’s Christmas Cookbook” provides a range of recipes that are sure to inspire and delight. By purchasing this cookbook, you not only gain access to a plethora of creative and delicious recipes but also support the culinary arts and book industry, making your holiday season both festive and enriching.

AmazonOffers both new and used copies with quick shipping options.Amazon Link
HiveSupports local bookshops and offers competitive pricing with home delivery.Hive Link
WaterstonesProvides a wide range of books. Availability online and in nearby stores for pickup.Waterstones Link
Penguin Random HouseDirect from the publisher, often with special editions or bundles.Penguin Random House Link
Special Editions and MerchandiseWatch for special editions with additional features and branded merchandise during the holiday season.Check Jamie Oliver’s website and social media.

The holiday season is a time of warmth, joy, and festivity, much of which centers around the kitchen—where families gather, recipes are passed down through generations, and new traditions are forged. Jamie Oliver’s cooking philosophy, centered on simplicity, flavor, and healthy innovation, captures the essence of holiday cooking perfectly. His “Jamie Oliver’s Christmas Cookbook,” particularly the recipe for Red Cabbage with Crispy Smoked Bacon and Rosemary, is an exemplary showcase of how traditional ingredients can be transformed into something extraordinary with a little creativity and culinary finesse.

Jamie Oliver’s recipes are designed not just to feed the body but to enrich the soul, making each meal a celebration of the ingredients and the season. The Red Cabbage with Crispy Smoked Bacon and Rosemary is more than just a side dish; it’s a vibrant expression of holiday flavors that can bring a new dimension to your festive table. With its rich colors, deep flavors, and tantalizing aroma, this dish is sure to become a highlight of any holiday meal, inviting compliments from guests and satisfaction from the cook.

The joy of cooking during the holidays is about more than just preparing food. It’s about creating memories, sharing love through every chop, stir, and bake, and enjoying the sensory pleasures of spices and flavors. Jamie Oliver’s approachable recipes enable even novice cooks to deliver dishes that are both impressive and deeply comforting. Each recipe in his Christmas cookbook is infused with the spirit of the season, offering a way to slow down, savor the moment, and connect with loved ones over delicious, hearty food.

This holiday season, I encourage you to dive into the pages of Jamie Oliver’s Christmas Cookbook and discover recipes that speak to your heart. Whether it’s the intriguing blend of sweet and savory in the Red Cabbage with Crispy Smoked Bacon and Rosemary or another of Jamie’s festive dishes, there is joy to be found in the act of cooking itself. Integrate these recipes into your holiday traditions, and watch as they bring an added layer of warmth and cheer to your celebrations.

Moreover, embracing these recipes allows you to step into a world where cooking is a joyful and creative endeavor. Jamie Oliver’s dedication to making cooking accessible and enjoyable is evident in each page of his cookbook, inviting cooks of all skill levels to partake in the pleasure of making something beautiful and delicious. So, whether you are cooking for two or an entire family, let these recipes inspire you to innovate, enjoy, and indulge during the holiday season.

In conclusion, as you plan your holiday meals and think about what dishes to prepare, consider making Jamie Oliver’s Red Cabbage with Crispy Smoked Bacon and Rosemary a new addition to your table. It’s an opportunity to experiment with flavors and ingredients, to delight in the process of cooking, and to serve something that is sure to be remembered. Let this dish, and others from Jamie Oliver’s Christmas Cookbook, help you celebrate the season with gusto, flavor, and a touch of culinary magic. Happy cooking, happy holidays, and may your meals be merry and bright!