The Joys of Cabbage
No really. Have you ever had properly cooked green cabbage? Not red, not Savoy, not Napa. Good old-fashioned, turn-into-sauerkraut pale green cabbage. Not boiled to death or steamed. Cooked properly, so that the flavor is nutty and a bit sweet but green at the same time? And the texture is tender, but not mushy? You’ve never had it that way? You are so missing out.
I had a little green cabbage sitting in my crisper for a while, so in an effort to eat down the fridge before heading to Fargo for a week (which is where, in fact, I am writing from) I decided to make one of my favorite ways to eat cabbage – roasted with bacon. I threw in a quartered apple for good measure and made some red onion and pecorino “pizza.” It was divine. Here is the recipe:
Roasted Cabbage with Bacon and Apples
1 small green cabbage, quartered or sixthed and cored
4-6 slices bacon (one for each section of cabbage)
1 apple, quartered and cored (optional)
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F (you can go higher if you like more black bits on your cabbage). On a sheet pan or baking dish place cabbage sections upright and drape bacon over top. You can just fold it back over or cut each slice in half and drape two halves over. Place apple quarters skin-side down on pan. Roast approximately 30 minutes, until ends of cabbage start to blacken and bacon is crisp. Serve one section of cabbage per person with one quarter of apple. Good steak knives help with the eating.
Red Onion and Pecorino “Pizza”
I put pizza in quotes because this is really more like a flatbread, but I use the oh-so-convenient store-bought, premade pizza dough for it. The pecorino baking makes your house smell amazing.
1 package premade yeast pizza dough (usually 1 lb)
1/2 a large red onion, thinly sliced
piece of pecorino for grating
pepper or other spices (optional)
Let pizza dough come to room temp and rise slightly. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (convenient, if you make the cabbage also). Flour (but don’t grease) a quarter sheet pan. Roll/stretch the dough somewhat until it resembles a large rectangle (or a circle or however you want to do it), but don’t stretch it too thinly. Use more flour if the dough seems sticky. Brush crust all over with olive oil. Scatter sliced onions over top and drizzle onions with more olive oil (I didn’t and they just dried up and fell off). Grate pecorino over top. Sprinkle with pepper if using. Bake approximately 20 minutes or until crust is golden brown.
And that’s it! Doesn’t that sound fantastic? The crisp bacon goes perfectly with the tender cabbage, which is gilded with a little of the bacon fat for extra flavor. The “pizza” has a crispy crust with a soft interior and the onion flavor goes well with the cabbage and bacon. The apple can be eaten as dessert or eaten with the cabbage.
Another of my favorite ways to have cabbage is sauteed in butter with salt and pepper. If you have any leftovers, you can turn it into colcannon. Colcannon with carrots, if you like. Or sauteed with apples ‘n’ onions and kielbasa. I got a “new” cookbooks yesterday called “Grandma’s Cookbook: Foster Grandparents Club, Denton State School, Denton, Texas” which includes a recipe for “Sweet-Sour Cabbage,” which sounds basically like a faster version of sauerkraut served hot:
Sweet-Sour Cabbage – by Olga McNabb
1 medium-sized cabbage
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon pickling spices
1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
Chop cabbage coarsely. Cover with water and boil. Add salt, 1 spice back of pickling spices and cloves, vinegar, and sugar. Let boil until tender and serve.
Not sure about the pickling spices and cloves, but it sounds interesting so I think I will give it a try next time I find cabbage at the grocery store.
Not sure what to look for in a cabbage? Look for small, tight, heavy heads with firm leaves. Yellowing, dry, loose, or wrinkled leaves should be avoided and/or removed. A small head (about the size of three fists put together) will feed 2-3 people as a main dish or 4-6 as a side dish, so skip those giant cabbages they always seem to have if you can help it. Green cabbage can either be pale green or white. Cabbage is an excellent source of vitamin C (and one of the main reasons why historically poor farming folk and European peasants probably didn’t get scurvy, despite the limited diet) and one of the cheapest vegetables you can buy. At my local grocer I can often get it for $0.49/pound, sometimes $0.39/pound. So skip the out-of-season lettuce and fresh green beans and serve green cabbage as a side dish instead. Just as tasty, cheaper, and a whole lot better for you.
Do you eat cabbage? Hate it? Love it? Got any fantastic recipes? Let us know. We like sharing.