1. Cabbage is good and cheap all year around. This makes it an especially tasty salad base in the winter when lettuce is expensive and, sometimes, sour. Cabbage is plentiful around St. Patrick’s Day.
2. Cabbage may be the most fun vegetable, ever, to chop. Take a big knife and slice the cabbage in half. Then slice one of the halves into thirds through the core. Use a paring knife to cut the core out of one of those thirds. Then, use the big knife to slice through the layers — each slice yields many small strands of cabbage.
3. Cabbage is a bit tough when consumed raw. I learned the solution for tenderizing cabbage from Mark Bittman — layer sliced cabbage and sprinkles of salt in a colander over a bowl and let it soften for at least a half hour and up to several hours. If your dressing has something salty in it, like soy sauce, rinse the salt off the cabbage.
4. Cabbage salad, including dressing, keeps in the refrigerator for several days. This makes it a great choice for busy week days — make cabbage salad for Sunday lunch or supper and have it for lunch the rest of the week. Ingredients that work well in cabbage salad and stand up to sitting in dressing for several days include carrots, fresh fennel, and red peppers. A mix of green and red cabbage is another colorful option. Nuts and dried fruits can work well in cabbage salad but should be added at the time of serving because they get soggy in dressing.
5. Cabbage salad can be dressed up or down and made suitable for a variety of occasions. My favorite recipe for a party version of cabbage salad is Fresh Citrus and Ginger Coleslaw. When I have local cabbage in the summer, I usually make something more reminiscent of a creamy coleslaw with yogurt cheese substituting for some of the mayo to lighten it up a bit. Another dressing choice is to use a peanut sauce. A brown dressing isn’t as attractive on cabbage as a vinaigrette or creamy dressing, but it sure is tasty.
Cabbage Salad with Fennel and Red Pepper
Fresh fennel, a winter vegetable, works well with cabbage since it can be softened in the same way as the cabbage. I learned that from the Pop Over Any Time episode of Jacques Pépin’s show, More Fast Food My Way. I use the bulb part of the fennel in the tuna pasta that Jacques Pépin made in that episode and save the stalks for this cabbage salad.
I like giant salads, so this recipe makes about four servings for me. For a more reasonable serving size, like the one shown in the photo, it’s about eight servings.
1/2 head of cabbage (the other 1/2 will still be good for another batch a few days later)
Stalks from fresh fennel
1 red bell pepper, sliced
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon mustard
1. Slice the cabbage and fennel. Layer with sprinkled salt in a colander over a bowl and allow to soften for half an hour or more.
2. Whisk the dressing ingredients together until emulsified.
3. Toss the cabbage, fennel, and bell pepper with the dressing. Stored in the refrigerator, this salad will be good for several days.
This is my post for Weekend Cooking. Check out Beth Fish Reads today for more culinary posts around the web.