I don’t know whether it’s the warm salads or the fact that it’s light outside until 5 p.m. now (holy cow!!!), but I feel that February is going by very quickly. Thank goodness for that, I want spring!
The next delicious dish on the menu is a warm cabbage salad, adapted from 101 Cookbooks, and packed with all kinds of flavour layers. Sweet, sour, woody, salty, rich and clean – we’ve got them all on one spectacular plate of whole food goodness. In fact, something about all of these rich colours and contrasting textures reminds me of a walk through the forest…with just a dash of snow.
The star of the show here is red cabbage, a veritable powerhouse vegetable, often underappreciated and misunderstood. I think this boils down to the fact that cabbage is often either over-cooked and mushy, or when eaten raw, sliced into too-big chunks and not fun to munch – we’re not rabbits after all (although I would bet that I was one in a past life).
In this recipe, the cabbage is sliced into thin ribbons and heated just through, so that it retains some of its distinctive crispness. When tossed with a dark balsamic vinegar, it becomes sealed with a juicy sweet-tartness that deepens as the flavours sink into the slivers of its purple splendor. Too much?
Use your Head: Eat More Cabbage
Like I mentioned earlier, cabbage is a vegetable with crazy health-promoting powers. In fact, it was written up in the New York Times health column: “The 11 Best Foods You Aren’t Eating”.
Cabbage stimulates the immune system and kills bacteria and viruses. It can inhibit the growth of cancerous cells; protect against tumors; controls hormone levels; affects sex drive, fertility, and menopause symptoms. Cabbage can speed up the metabolism of estrogen, which reduces the risk of breast cancer and inhibits the growth of polyps, an early sign of colon cancer.(1)
Cabbage is an excellent source of fiber, another protective measure against colon cancer. The high levels of vitamin A aid in tissue repair, and the sulfur content helps fight infection and protects skin from eczema and other rashes.(1)
Convinced yet? I hope so.
Forest Walk Cabbage Salad
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 red onion, diced
3 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 pound head of red cabbage quartered and cut into thin ribbons
1-2 crisp green apples, chopped into chunks
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, minced
a couple handfuls golden raisins (or other plump, chopped dried fruit)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup walnuts (or toasted hazelnuts, or pumpkin seeds, or sunflower seeds…)
fine grain sea salt
2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled (totally optional)
1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and sauté the onion for a minute or two with a couple pinches of salt. Stir in the garlic, and the cabbage, and a few more pinches of salt. Stir and cook for just a minute or so, or until the cabbage softens up just a touch.
2. Then stir in the rosemary, most of the raisins, and the vinegar. (The cabbage will continue to get more and more tender even after you remove it from the heat, so keep that in mind, and do your best to avoid overcooking it – where it collapses entirely). Fold in half of the goat cheese, the apples, raisins and walnuts, then taste. Season with more salt if needed.
3. Serve garnished with the remaining raisins, goat cheese, and walnuts, and perhaps a sprinkling of rosemary sprigs.
To make a complete meal, serve this salad on a bed of wild rice, adding to the overall “woodsy-ness” of it all. For vegans, omit the goat cheese and throw in more nuts.
info source: Balch, Phyllis A. Prescription for Dietary Wellness.
New York, NY: Penguin, 2003