Spring is inching closer and closer, although the gelid weather this weekend will make us want to curl up like pill bugs under the warm covers, yearning for eiderdown protection and comfort. Sorry. Whether you like it or not, we will spring ahead Sunday morning and lose that luxurious hour of drowsing. And it is going to be cold as we paste on happy faces, anticipating St. Patrick’s Day and the glories of green beer. At least the weather will improve as the week marches on.
In anticipation of all things Irish, I wandered through the grocery store last week, looking for verdant, leafy views. The cabbages were a sight to behold – proudly curling, dripping with sprayed-on atmosphere, strong against the shock of cold weather. After all, “the time has come,” the Walrus said.
Cabbage is a stalwart winter staple. Packed with vitamins and nutrition, it also will sit in your fridge for weeks on end – unlike its punier cousin, iceberg lettuce, which wilts and browns and liquifies the moment you first shut the refrigerator door. Once you figure out what to do with cabbage, it never disappoints.
My mother cooked corned beef and cabbage every March 17. Just remembering the event brings memories of that awful smell wafting through the house, pursuing me up the stairs, and into my room at the end of the second floor hall. It was all-pervasive and persistent. It might have tasted delicious, but I could never bring myself to eat it. The smell was much too vile. I hope you enjoy your stinky St. Patrick’s Day meal. And you can keep your sauerkraut, too.
On the other hand, my mother made an absolutely delicious coleslaw, which I did eat, and I make to this day. It is wonderful with pork chops and applesauce, it holds its own on a picnic table, and can be whipped up in minutes. It is a boon to mealtimes, and a reason to always have a little stash of fresh cabbage.
6 cups shredded cabbage
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons celery seed
salt and pepper
Put the shredded cabbage in a large salad bowl. Some people add shredded carrots, but not my family. If you want a livelier-looking slaw, go ahead and add some purple cabbage. In a smaller bowl, make dressing by combining mayonnaise, vinegar, celery seed, salt and pepper. Toss dressing into cabbage mixture and chill. An excellent side dish, or to go on sandwiches. And don’t scrimp on the celery seed, or make the rookie mistake of using celery salt – keep that for Bloody Marys.
Samsin Nosrat has a better idea than my mother’s 1950’s Hellmann’s mayonnaise-inspired slaw: Bright Cabbage Slaw. It incorporates cabbage and apples, without the fat and calories from nostalgic mayonnaise. https://www.pbs.org/food/recipes/samin-nosrats-bright-cabbage-slaw/ You can pretend you are in sunny California.
I am a big fan of Caesar salads. The New York Times has an interesting spin on them – instead of the usual Romaine lettuce, try roasting a wedge of cabbage, and toasting chickpeas instead of using calorie-packed bread croutons. Throw in some mayo, Parmesan cheese, garlic and capers. Yumsters.
Or consider roasted cabbage steaks: https://eatsomethingvegan.com/roasted-cabbage-steaks/
If you are a true cabbage enthusiast, Epicurious has your number – 67 Cabbage Recipes for Salads, Slaws, Stir-Fries, and More: https://www.epicurious.com/recipes-menus/17-of-the-best-cabbage-recipes-gallery
Try not to feel too sleep deprived this week. It will be lighter longer and there is green beer to look forward to on Thursday. And spring is only 10 days away.
“An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it makes a better soup.”
― H.L. Mencken