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Relapse: Cabbage November 28, 2010

Posted by inspiredbywolfe in Vegetables.
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Relapse: An occasional series where I discuss several ways of preparing an ingredient.

I think that cabbage is a much maligned vegetable. People have images of watery cabbage soup and the horrible smell of overcooked cabbage. However, when prepared properly, it is delicious and not at all depressing. One use of cabbage which I don’t go into detail here is to pickle it, and make either sauerkraut or kimchi. This is certainly a fantastic use of cabbage and one I highly recommend, but if you want to use fresh cabbage, here are some suggestions.

Cabbage and caraway
One of my favourite ways of preparing cabbage is to cook it briefly and then toss it with butter and caraway seeds. This makes a great side dish and is really simple to prepare. To begin, I sliced the cabbage into small pieces and placed it in a saucepan of boiling water.

I only boiled it for 2 or 3 minutes – until it had started to go soft but still had a bit of crunch. Then it was just a matter of draining the water, adding a fairly generous amount of butter, toasted caraway seeds, salt and pepper. The warmth of the cabbage helped to melt the butter and I continued to mix until the caraway seeds were well distributed. Here’s what they looked like when they were completed.

This makes a great accompaniment to pork or even lamb dishes, and of course you can add other spices as you prefer. The still slightly-crunchy cabbage can also add a great textural element to the overall dish.

Roasted cabbage with bacon
A good rule of thumb for vegetables is – if you’re not sure how to prepare them, roast them! Cabbage is no exception. Like its relative brussels sprouts, cabbage can be transformed with a good oven roasting. This is also extremely simple to prepare. There are recipes around (such as this one) but to be honest, you don’t really need a recipe.

I chopped the cabbage into wedges, and drizzled olive oil over them, and sprinkled them with pepper (I didn’t bother with salt because I was adding bacon anyway). I made sure they were well coated in the oil and then chopped up some bacon and added that too.

I put the cabbage into the oven, which I’d preheated to 200ΒΊC. After about 20 minutes, I flipped the cabbage pieces over, and put them back into the oven for another 20 minutes or so. The exact cooking time will depend on the size of your cabbage pieces (and as you can see I had some quite large pieces!) but they will generally take 40-50 minutes in total.

Roasting cabbage in this way means they’re crispy and caramelised on the outside, and soft on the inside. Roasting the bacon for this length of time also makes it go very crispy and it adds a nice salty kick to the cabbage.

Cabbage rolls: Golabki
For another recipe involving cabbage, I turned to the Polish cabbage rolls known as Golabki. Again there are a lot of recipes available; some to look at are here and here. The basic recipe is a stuffing of meat, onions and rice or barley, which is then rolled in a cabbage leaf and simmered until done. For this recipe, I used savoy cabbage.

To start with, I cut out the heart of the cabbage and placed the rest of the head in a pot of boiled water for about 2-3 minutes. This was not to cook the leaves but rather to make them soft enough that they could then be rolled. To make the filling, I combined pork mince (left over from Zombie Nero Wolfe), cooked rice and an onion, and mixed them all together (I didn’t bother adding other spices as I’d already spiced the mince when making it). I pulled off the cabbage leaves one by one, placed a small amount of filling in the centre, and rolled them up, folding the edges in so they stayed together.

When I’d rolled them all up, I put them in a pan and added some beef stock. I then simmered on a low heat for about an hour, until the meat was cooked. I also added some skinned tomatoes to the pan, so that they’d be cooked too and make a sauce.

When the rolls were cooked, I removed them from the pan and finished off the sauce by boiling the beef stock and cooked tomatoes together. I served them by pouring the tomato sauce over the top of the rolls.

These are substantial enough that they could be used as a main course. And they are delicious – the filling was very flavoursome and the tomatoes added some sweetness, while the cabbage held everything together.

So, next time you pass the cabbage by, leaving it forlornly on the shelf, remember it can be delicious and just as tasty as any other vegetable, and it should be embraced with great enthusiasm!


1. Teena - November 29, 2010

OH cabbage rools. One of my favourite childhood dishes (still top of my list when mum asks me what I want to eat when get home for a weekend).. she used to blanch the cabbage leaves till soft enough to roll, then lightly brown them in butter (I always peferred them on the ‘almost black’ side) before outting them in the broth… I used to swap my meat filling for my brother’s browned cabbage.. whenever the parents were not looking πŸ™‚
Must make some soon, great autumn/winter dish.. along with proper mashed potatoes and gravy…
thanks for the reminder πŸ™‚

inspiredbywolfe - November 29, 2010

Oh Teena that sounds great! I’ll have to try it.

2. Teena - December 2, 2010

made some yesterday (good to freeze a few portions, they’re normally even better when warmed up the second time round).. used regular white cabbage.
I seem to remember my experiments from a few years back (I was cabbage-roll-obsessed for a while) – tried red cabbage and rabbit stuffing, and savoy cabbage with ground turkey, with raisins and almonds, slightly oriental seasoning.. must try and find the old recipes…

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