Feature

In season: cabbage

Green Lifestyle magazine

Winter frosts sweeten cabbage leaves, so get your fill before summer sets in.

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Did you know that the compounds that make cabbage smelly when cooked are caused by chemicals the plant uses to stave off insect attack, but these are also the same chemicals that are beneficial to human health? So, what are you waiting for? Tuck in!

Quick Pickled Cabbage
Using a very sharp knife, slice a quarter of a cabbage very finely and place in a bowl. Sprinkle with several tablespoons of salt and sugar. Using clean hands, work the salt and sugar into the cabbage until the salt and sugar crystals begin to dissolve. Leave the cabbage for 15 minutes to an hour. (The longer you leave the cabbage with the salt and sugar the softer it will be, but you will lose more of the juice with its beneficial compounds.) Cover the cabbage with cold water, stir and drain. Repeat. The cabbage should be soft but neither sweet nor salty. Spin in a salad dryer (or in a tea towel outside). Dress with a mixture of one teaspoon of French mustard, the juice of half a lemon and perhaps a splash of extra virgin olive oil. Mix well. Try this with purple cabbage. Serves 4.

Cabbage, Maple Syrup and Walnuts
Peel apart the leaves from a quarter of a cabbage. Roughly chop into pieces half the size of a matchbox. Heat a wok over high heat and drizzle in a little vegetable oil. Add the cabbage and toss around for 10 minutes or so until it has softened. Add a cup of walnut kernels. (If you can find fresh, whole walnuts they will be much tastier than packet walnuts – you’ll have to crack them open yourself.) Reduce the heat a little and add the walnuts and 4 tablespoons of maple syrup. Stir. Season with a pinch of salt and ground black pepper, and perhaps a pinch of thyme leaves or chilli flakes, and continue to stir until the maple syrup has coated the nuts and become sticky. Great with roast vegetables. Serves 4.

Cabbage Wraps
Take a cabbage and remove the hard outer leaves until you come to the softer leaves that are wrapped tightly around the heart of the cabbage. (Use the outer leaves to make Quick Pickled Cabbage above.) Remove eight soft leaves intact by taking a sharp knife and cutting a hole around the stem. Peel away the leaves, starting at the stem. Rinse and dry them. Place inside each leaf the equivalent of a cup of filling: try grated carrot, chopped nuts and parsley, dressed with lemon juice. Fold up the bottom third of the leaf and then close over the other two sides and eat with your hands. Serves 4.