Crunchy Leaves for Fall
by Peggy Paul Casella
Not only is cabbage one of the most ancient vegetables available today, it’s also one of the most hardy and versatile. When temperatures plunge in late fall and the first frost wilts most other vegetables and leafy greens (like its cousin kale), this brassica only improves in flavor. It stores well, too, making it one of the few crunchy, leafy vegetables that are available all through winter. Cabbage is delicious in all sorts of applications: raw salads and slaws, sauerkrauts and pickles, soups and braises, sautés and roasts, roll-ups and casseroles. It contains especially high amounts of antioxidants, which help detoxify the body, protect against certain cancers and may decrease “bad” blood cholesterol levels. Plus, cabbage is also rich in vitamin K, which aids in bone and brain health, and vitamin C, which combats free radicals and protects the body from infection. Choose firm, compact heads of cabbage with glossy, unblemished leaves that appear crisp, not wilted. Whole and cut heads will keep in the fridge, tightly wrapped, for a few weeks or up to two months (though their nutrient content will decrease with age).
According to the “Oxford Companion to Food,” ancient Greeks believed that cabbage first grew from the sweat of Zeus, which may have accounted for the vegetable’s dank aroma when cooked.
Cabbage-Kohlrabi-Carrot Slaw with Cilantro and Lime Dressing
Serves 8 to 10
- 1 medium head red (or green) cabbage, quartered, cored and shredded
- 1/2 pound carrots, peeled and shredded
- 1/2 pound kohlrabi, peeled and shredded
- 1 large bunch cilantro, leaves roughly chopped
- Juice of 3 limes
- 2/3 cup vegetable or safflower oil
- 1 ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- In a very large bowl, toss together the shredded cabbage, carrots and kohlrabi. Add the cilantro and toss to combine.
- In a medium-size jar, combine the lime juice and oil and shake well until the mixture looks milky. Add the sugar and shake well for a few seconds until the sugar is incorporated. (Alternatively, whisk the lime juice and oil in a bowl, then add the sugar and whisk again until combined.)
- Pour the dressing over the slaw, toss well to combine, and season generously with salt and pepper. (You’ll need more salt than you think: Just keep tasting the slaw and adding more until the seasoning is to your liking.)
- Cover and refrigerate the slaw for at least an hour or two before serving. It will keep for up to three days in the fridge.
Peggy Paul Casella is a cookbook editor, writer, urban vegetable gardener,
produce peddler and author of the blog Thursday Night Pizza.