A Roman Cabbage Repast from Antiquity

Contains:  Seafood, alcohol.  Is: Quick and easy, Paleo.  

roman, antiquity, cabbage, fish sauce, recipe

This one sounded really good, especially since I had everything already in the house.  Makes life easier when you live 35 minutes from the nearest supermarket, and you get tempted by something you just watched or just read about.  

It’s a recipe from “Tasting History with Max Miller”, an excellent YouTube channel that cropped up in March 2020, and took off because Max Miller had a lot of free time on his hands, being furloughed from his day job due to a certain virus.  Long-term I’ve been interested in old, as in very old, recipes – I also follow “Townsends”, a channel largely focusing on colonial era food in eastern North America – although Jon Townsend also discusses non-food related 18th century life.  And brings in British and continental sources of recipes that probably also made their way over to the US.  

The link to the video itself.

Miller’s recipe was adapted from the Roman, Apicius’s “De Re Coquinaria”.  

The cabbage that the original recipe used was a leafy one, not a head-y one.  Cabbage (Brassica oleracea) was well-valued by the Romans, who generally seemed to sing its praises a lot, both for flavor and medicinally.   In his variation of the old Roman recipe, Max Miller went with baby bok choy – which is indeed a Brassica plant but is rather Brassica rapa.  Pick a leafy Brassica – broccoli or cabbage just aren’t going to work, nor would Brussels sprouts.  He used the bok choy because it was to hand.  Likewise, here.  

Garum – for the sake of simplicity, simply use Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce, Red Boat being a reliable brand.  (If you can’t eat seafood, a bit of tamari would be fine.)  Miller does have an early video (from which I first discovered this channel) explaining how to make garam yourself.  Haven’t done so yet, but I enjoyed watching….)  

Just as a potentially-bragging note – the leeks used were from my own garden.  They did quite well, so I’ll grow them again in 2022.  A shallot would also work, or a green onion stalk.

Most recipes from antiquity don’t deign to discuss quantities.  Miller came up with workable suggestions, but leaves the garnish amounts up to the viewer/reader.  This will be YOUR recipe, modify and make it happy at your home!  

Prep Time:  5-10 minutes.
Cook Time:  Less than 10 minutes.
Rest Time:  Not necessary.
Serves:  2-4, depending on what else will be served.
Cuisine:  Ancient Roman.
Leftovers:  Sure.

A Roman Cabbage Repast


  • 2 pounds / of your choice of a leafy Brassica.  Remove stem.  Separate leaves.  Clean as necessary.  If really large leaves, cut or break them to more manageable sizes.  
  • 1.5 tablespoons fish sauce (garum if you can source it, or wish to make it yourself), but if not, use a Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce).
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup / 60 mL white wine (not too dry).
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste.
  • 1 thin leek, chopped.  Use the white/light green parts.  It is probably best to use small-diameter leeks, and chop finely.  Onet thin one should suffice, or a portion of a larger one.
  • Caraway seeds, to taste.
  • Cilantro aka coriander leaves, to taste.


Bring a pot of water to a boil, and add the cabbage.  Blanch for about 90 seconds.  Remove, drain, and set the cabbage to the side into a serving bowl.  

In a pot, add all the liquids together along with the cumin.  Whisk, and set over heat to cook at a simmer. Do this for a few minutes to blend all this together, and to drive off the alcohol..  

Then, remove, and pour over the cooked cabbage.  

Top with the ground pepper, leeks, caraway seeds and cilantro.  Serve and enjoy.  And, perhaps, enjoy whatever medicinal benefits Brassica can endow.  

roman, antiquity, cabbage, recipe

Shared with:  

What’s For Dunner:  Sunday Link Up.
Fiesta Friday, with Co-Host Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook
Full Plate Thursday.



About goatsandgreens

The foodie me: Low/no gluten, low sugars, lots of ethnic variety of foods. Seafood, offal, veggies. Farmers' markets. Cooking from scratch, and largely local. The "future" me: I've now moved to my new home in rural western Massachusetts. I am raising chickens (for meat and for eggs) and planning for guinea fowl, Shetland sheep, and probably goats and/or alpaca. Possibly feeder pigs. Raising veggies and going solar.
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3 Responses to A Roman Cabbage Repast from Antiquity

  1. helenfern says:

    Thanks for sharing at the What’s for Dinner party. Hope your week is amazing!

  2. Jhuls says:

    Sounds simple but tasty. Thank you for haring at Fiesta Friday party!

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