Like I said yesterday, I have learned a thing or two about the importance of Backup Plans in the last week… Like, sometimes the weather is going to keep me from making a trip to a particular store for ingredients. Or, the recipe I decided to do won’t work. Or, the new, super-cool LED lightbulbs in the kitchen are going to make for awful photos…
Or, more likely for yours truly, a bout of muddle-headedness will overcome me to the point where I can’t concentrate on anything… Not as bad as it used to be, but still a struggle sometimes. Bear with me, gang – I’ll be a real grown-up someday…
So in the spirit of backup-ing, I got The Boy to come over yesterday afternoon and help me take enough pictures for a week’s worth of posts. Bonus – the light in the kitchen was a little better, since it wasn’t pitch-black outside… and we got some ‘action’ shots. Much easier to do with a second person in the room!
So, on to today’s winter vegetable recipe – Warm Red Cabbage Salad.
Cabbage has long been a staple of winter cooking. Often, they’re the last thing growing in a kitchen garden, left in the ground all through the snowy weather. Harvested late and brought in for storage, they last until spring. Even in your refrigerator, a cut cabbage can last more than a month.
And, they’re dirt-cheap at the grocery store…
I used to think of cabbage only two ways: raw, in a slaw (my Mom made a GREAT coleslaw when I was a kid!) or fermented, like sauerkraut. DO NOT even mention boiled, nasty corned-beef-and-cabbage-style… I can’t even smell that stuff without feeling a little ill! That changed last winter, with a visit to a favorite Providence restaurant, Chez Pascal.
Chef-owner Matt Gennuso had a similar salad on the menu: warm red cabbage – softened a little, but still crunchy – a vinegrette-type dressing, like a coleslaw, dried fruit, crunchy nuts, and flanked by a blue cheese flan. One bite, and I was hooked! I had to figure out a way to bring these flavors home…
( click here for the Chez Pascal website. Go to the ‘Events’ tab to see a clip of Matt on ‘The Today Show’ last year – too cool!)
Typing “Warm Cabbage Salad” into my search engine got me some ideas on technique, but , aside from the balsamic vinegar, I was on my own for the flavors. The flan – a cute little custard – was definitely out. Way too fussy for a weeknight dinner. I knew I’d just be using some good blue cheese, scattered over at the end. So, what in my pantry would be a good match? One recipe suggested raisins and sunflower seeds – which I didn’t have on hand.
What I did have was an over-abundance of walnuts, purchased for some holiday baking that didn’t happen, and going to waste sitting on the shelf. Walnuts match well with cheese, so that was half the mystery solved. We had also recently bought a bunch of different dried fruits – the reason for that escapes me now, but I’m sure it was a good idea at the time – and the one that ‘spoke’ to me the loudest was a package of dried cherries.
A bit more complicated than a lot of side dish recipes, but well worth the trouble. The fruit and the balsamic vinegar combine for a great sweet/tart flavor, and the creamy cheese plays off the crunch of the cabbage and chopped nuts. Besides, who says it has to be just a side? With the nuts and cheese for protein, it’s a meatless main course!
Ok, gang, I’m trying something different here, and I want to know if you like it. For the moment, I’m going to put the recipe here at the bottom of the page, while I try to figure out a way to have a seperate recipe post that could be printed out without the pretty pictures using up a whole ink cartridge. Maybe in a few hours I can have that up… But if I don’t post this soon, my Mom is going to think I went up to the hospital and didn’t tell her…
Warm Red Cabbage Salad
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 of a small onion, diced
1 small shallot, diced
1 garlic clove, diced
1/2 of a small head of red cabbage, core and outer leaves removed and sliced thin (about 4 cups)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup dried cherries
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 ounces crumbled blue cheese
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, saute the the shallot and onion in the olive oil until soft but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes more.
Add the cabbage and a good pinch of salt. Stir and cook for about a minute. Add the walnuts, cherries, and vinegar, stir to combine. Put the lid and lower the heat to medium-low. Cook for 5 – 8 minutes, depending on how soft you want the cabbage to be. stir at least once during the cooking.
Turn off the heat and sprinkle the cheese in. Put the lid back on and let it sit for about 5 minutes before serving.
Not a fan of blue cheese? Try it with soft, mild goat cheese instead!
UPDATE! It Worked! You can now go to the ‘recipes’ tab at the top of the page and click on “Warm Red Cabbage Salad” for a clean, printer-friendly copy of the recipe. (Or, click HERE)It’s the only one in there right now, but I’ll get the others done in the coming weeks. I hope.