It's so dark. 5:30 rolls around and it's pitch black outside. This is a difficult time of year for me. I'm not the best at waking up earlier than is necessary to get to work, so I miss the light at the end of the day that is my available time for walking and exercising outside. I miss the light available to take photos. And it's cold. Enough complaining -- because besides the difficulty of transitioning, I do eventually find my way back to the joys of this time of year: curling up with books, baking bread, knitting... cabbage.
This past week I ended up with several heads of cabbage, thanks to a trial run with a local CSA. Tis the season -- brassicas (broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, cabbage) LOVE this time of year and are in abundance at the farmers market. It's good to make friends with them, as they are to fall and winter as tomatoes and zucchini are to summer. Chopped up in this brightly colored, fresh salad, you can (almost) transport to a warm, sunny place.
When I first started teaching garden cooking classes to kids in grades kindergarten through high school, I was nervous about the brassica family: what kid is going to want to chow down cabbage?! To my surprise, many of my students' favorite recipes featured cabbage (and kale -- and even Brussels sprouts!). This recipe is adapted from one that I used in these lessons. It's great as a side dish, it works well on sandwiches, and Bill loves it with BBQ and pulled pork. It is also highly adaptable: don't have cucumbers because they are no longer available at your farmers' market? Skip 'em. Add some extra grated carrots. Extra arugula or spinach in the fridge? Toss some in. Allergies to peanuts? Use toasted sunflower seeds and sesame oil. It's flexible -- and can be great in the summer with sliced cherry tomatoes and red peppers, too.
Asian Cabbage Salad
makes about 6 servings
5 cups cabbage, sliced thinly (a mix of napa and red cabbage is my favorite, but any cabbage will work fine: the photos here are of regular green and red cabbage)
2 carrots, grated (about 1 cup)
3/4 cup cucumber, sliced into matchstick pieces, about 1.5 inches in length
2 scallions, white and green parts, sliced thinly
7 - 10 mint leaves, chopped
3 - 4 Tablespoons cilantro, chopped
2 Tablespoons basil, chopped (Thai basil is great if you have it, but both are optional)
1 cup roasted peanuts, chopped
2 Tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
Lime, as desired
3 Tablespoons peanut oil
2 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
1.5 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1. Toss together the first 7 ingredients.
2. Prepare the dressing by whisking all the 'Dressing' ingredients together. Taste -- you may want to add more of a particular ingredient based on your own taste.
3. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss again to coat.
4. Sprinkle the peanuts and sesame seeds on top, add a squeeze of lime and serve.