green-cabbage

We love cabbage. Let us count the ways: it’s cheap, it’s tasty, it’s versatile, it keeps forever, it’s really good for you—and by the way did we say cheap, cheap, cheap? In our upcoming book we’ll give you our grandma’s recipe for sweet and sour cabbage soup that’s THE to-die-for yummy antidote to the chill of a cold winter night.  But don’t worry— we won’t wait until the December 29th release of Bitches on a Budget to share our cabbage secrets. (That doesn’t sound very sexy, does it? Oh well—what do you want from a vegetable that’s not a cucumber?)

Cabbage may be the best vegetable bargain on the shelf.  Spicy and crunchy raw.  Sweet and savory sauteed in butter and transformed into the perfect companion for a romantic bistro-style chicken dinner.  The seductive aroma of cabbage stuffed with meat and rice (or rice alone), slowly simmered in tomatoes, cinnamon, tamarin and ginger will bring passing strangers to your door. And as the backbone of a soup, whether our grandma’s or a hearty minestrone, it’s filling and packs a flavor punch.  We even have a killer recipe for pasta sauce. (Stay tuned in the coming weeks we’ll fill you in on how to make these yummy dishes.)

In our crisper, cabbage seems to last forever and a day. Great to have on hand for those nights when you can’t think about one more trip out to the store. And it’s unbelievably healthy. According to the USDA ½ cup of cabbage (a serving) is loaded with 45% of your daily Vitamin C needs, 8% dietary fiber, 2% iron, 20 calories, 0 fat, 0 transfat, 0 cholesterol.

One evening last week, in the midst of one of those who’s-going-to-deal-with-dinner discussions, we spied that cheap, gorgeous, underappreciated head in the back of the fridge. Glancing around the kitchen, inspiration struck and we grabbed that perfect globe and got to work.

Fresh cilantro and spearmint from the garden filled jam jars on the window sill; a couple limes; a red onion; rice wine vinegar; sesame oil; soy sauce; honey; olive oil (only because we were out of peanut oil) all called out to us.

We finely shredded the cabbage head; transformed ½ of the onion into paper thin slices; chopped huge handfuls of mint and cilantro; then tossed all these together in a big bowl.  Then we squeezed 1/3 cup of lime juice into a glass jar and added 4 tablespoons  rice wine vinegar, ¼ cup of oil, several generous dashes of toasted sesame oil, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon honey and salt and pepper to taste.  (We do like our salt and pepper). After vigorously shaking the dressing we tossed the cabbage and let it rest for half an hour.  Our advice if you try this on your own—adjust the ingredients to suit your taste and the size of the cabbage head.  We loved the acidic lime tang of our dressing mixing with the herbs and cabbage, you may like yours with a little more oil, a little more honey or even with a crushed clove of garlic.  No rules. It all depends on the size of those balls and your taste buds. Go crazy, ladies.

We heaped our lime and cilantro cabbage slaw on one side of an old pink floral plate (a favorite flea-market find) and generously heaped slices of simply grilled chicken breast on the other side.  We gave a handful of peanuts a whirl in the baby Cuisinart, sprinkled them across the cabbage and chicken, and tossed on a few sprigs of cilantro and mint.  Gorgeous! (Next time we’ll include pix.)  Since it was one of our last festive summer feasts we cranked up The Black Eyed Peas, popped the cork on a bottle of Sorelle Bronca Prosecco “Particella 68”—one of our all time faves—and partied.

All was well until we had to dish out clean up duty.