Storage and Usage Notes
Native to Europe, wild cabbage can still be found in its headless form that was known to be a source of food for ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. In Greece, the origin of cabbage was attributed to Zeus working himself into a sweat trying to explain two conflicting prophecies. Through years of cultivation, cabbage was developed into the large heads we are familiar with today. Of course cabbage can be turned into sauerkraut and makes for some great coleslaw, but this versatile vegetable also takes well to cooking, whether it is sautéed, braised, boiled, or grilled. Cooking cabbage gives off a pungent smell that is a result of a high concentration of sulphur compounds in the vegetable. The combination of thin slicing and brief cooking times can alleviate the strong flavor. Green cabbage pairs well with butter, olive oil, sour cream, cheddar cheese, parmesan, mustard, horseradish, caraway, dill, marjoram, potatoes, apples, apple cider vinegar, and lemon juice. Cabbage can last for a long time stored in a plastic bag in your vegetable crisper but its nutritive value decreases with time. Remove any wilted leaves before using.
Part of the cabbage family, cauliflower is composed of bunches of florets on clusters of stalks. In Mark Twain’s words, “cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.” When fresh, cauliflower has a sweet, delicate flavor that pairs well with butter, olive oil, garlic, curry, parsley, saffron, cheddar, parmesan, blue cheese, and sun dried tomatoes. Tender, fresh cauliflower can be served raw or blanched with dips and seasoned salts. Cauliflower makes a great addition to many pasta dishes, soups, stews, and curries. Stored in a perforated bag in the vegetable crisper of your refrigerator, cauliflower should last for several days.
If anyone needs some more ideas on what to do with greens, I’ve included a recipe for grilling kale that is very fast and easy. For a new take on kale, consider a raw kale salad. The kale is sliced thinly and sprinkled with kosher salt and allowed to sit for 10-20 minutes before tossing with remaining ingredients. Check out recipes at www.saveur.com or search for ‘massaged kale salad’. I know it sounds funny but massaging the kale with salt makes for a great salad. If you or your family likes to make pizza, try putting the Swiss chard on pizza in place of spinach. If the leaves are tough, blanch them first. Otherwise cut leaves into bite size pieces.
Cauliflower and Sweet Pea Pasta (Serves 4-6)
This quick and light summer dish is adapted from the cookbook Mustards by Cindy Pawlycn.
1 pound pasta, penne or other tube pasta
1 tablespoon plus ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil for the vegetables plus 1 tablespoon for the pasta
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
½ head cauliflower, cut into small florets
2 cups vegetable stock or chicken stock
2 cups peas cut into bite sized pieces
6-7 green onions, white parts only, sliced on the diagonal
Pinch of red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon salt and freshly ground pepper
¼ to 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
1-2 tablespoons butter
2-3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
Bring a large pot of salted water to a full boil. Add pasta a cook for 8-10 minutes or until pasta is al dente. Drain the pasta, toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil and set aside.
While the pasta water is heating, begin making the sauce. Heat the ¼ cup olive oil in a large wide sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the cauliflower and garlic and sauté for 8-10 minutes until golden brown. (Add the garlic toward the end so it does not burn.) Add the stock and simmer until reduced by half and the cauliflower is tender. Add the peas, onions, chili flakes, salt and pepper, and cook for 5-7 minutes. Stir in the cream and the pasta, heating it through and reducing the sauce until it coats the noodles nicely. Add the cheese, butter, and mint, tossing well to combine. Serve immediately.
Grilled Greens (serves 4 as a side dish)
This recipe comes from Barton Seaver’s cookbook For Cod and Country, which is a great resource for eating and cooking sustainable seafood. These greens will go well with any grilled meat or with a pasta dish. This recipe can be easily cut in half or increased to suit your serving needs.
2 bunches kale
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup chunky almond oil
Prepare your gas or charcoal grill and make sure it is hot. It is easiest to grill the kale with the stems on, but you can remove them by holding the base where the leaf meets the stem between the two fingers and pulling down on the leaf to separate. Toss the leaves with olive oil and salt to taste. Spread the leaves over the hottest part of the grill until they begin to burn and the edges just start to turn black, about 4 minutes. Using tongs, turn the leaves on the grill and cook for another 2 minutes.
Remove the kale to a serving platter and drizzle the almond oil over it. Serve immediately.
Chunky Almond Oil (makes about 2 cups)
This oil can also be mixed with a little lemon juice or aged sherry vinegar to make a quick vinaigrette. It would go well with any kale salad too.
1 cup extra virgin olive oil 7 ounces sliced almonds
Combine the ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the almonds are an even golden brown. Allow the mixture to cook to room temperature and store it in the fridge, tightly covered. The oil will congeal, so remove it from the fridge 20 minutes before you intend to use it. Will keep up to 2 weeks.