What does one do with cabbage?

3 09 2008

I pulled this nearly 2  1/2-pounder out of the garden this week.   To cabbage growers, my ability to produce a cabbage will not seem a very grandiose achievement, but I’m still dazzled at how the head went from some slightly crumpled leaves to a dense ball in just a matter of weeks.  I wish I hadn’t unnecessarily pulled the other cabbage plants out.  I do have a 1-pounder that I started eating this evening, but I think I really ended up wasting those plants.  Alas.

What I do appreciate about cabbage is how much food you get for the space.  Three and a half pounds of cabbage will go a long way as side dishes.   The question is, what to do with this much maligned vegetable?  I am neither a fan of any sort of recipes that makes cabbage limp, nor am I a big fan of coleslaw.  As I’ve been looking around, I’ve realized, as should have been obvious, that cabbage has really fallen out of favor with both cooks and cookbook authors.  Given what a sturdy food cabbage is, this really is a shame.  At the same time, I have zero interest in eating something that doesn’t taste good.

My favorite recipe for green cabbage is a stir fry with bean sprouts and peanuts.  You can find it at http://www.cooksillustrated.com.  I’d love to post the recipe, but it’s detailed enough that I don’t think I can fairly post it without violating their intellectual property rights.   I tried a more simple saute this evening that I enjoyed far more than I thought I would.  This was an experiment, so I cut off 1/4 pound of the smallest cabbage.  I sliced it very thin.  I melted a half tablespoon of butter, then added about a tablespoon of water. I added the cabbage and a pinch of fresh thyme.  I let it braise, covered, for about seven minutes, until the pan was fairly dry and the cabbage was crispy.  I sprinkled on a little salt and pepper and gave it a try.  It was good!  I think the key here is to not add too much liquid and to minimize the cooking time so the cabbage still has some crunch to it.

I’ve put in five cabbage plants into my fall garden, but more on that later.

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