Cabbage is one of our favorite vegetables. It has a texture somewhere between raw bell pepper and lettuce, and it is as good stewed and tender as it is raw and crunchy. It is a substantial vegetable, filling and distinct in flavor, but it also combines well with other ingredients. Also, cabbage is cheap. So here are two recipes in honor of cabbage and contemporary economics, one a leek and cabbage stew, and the other a dish we served back in the first week of August.
Leek and Cabbage Stew
Ingredients: leeks, hot peppers, cabbage, celery, carrots, mushrooms, lemon juice, feta cheese
1. Add finely chopped leeks and hot peppers to hot oil, and cook on medium heat for 6-8 minutes, or until the leeks are fragrant and translucent.
2. Add chopped cabbage, chopped carrots, and minced celery, and a little more than enough water and vegetable stock to cover. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook on low heat for thirty minutes, or until the cabbage and carrots are tender.
3. Add chopped mushrooms and any chopped herbs you might like to use at this point, and cook for an additional three to five minutes. (We prefer the spring of just-cooked mushrooms, which is why we wait to add them.) Once the mushrooms are cooked through, add salt and pepper to taste, and serve the stew with a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkling of feta cheese with each bowl.
Seared Cabbage with Goji Berries and Shiitake Mushrooms
Ingredients: cabbage, hot pepper flakes, goji berries, radishes, shiitake mushrooms, rice wine, kosher salt
1. Reconstitute a handful of goji berries and shiitake mushrooms by soaking them in water at least 30 minutes prior to cooking. Approximate proportions: 1 tablespoon of dried berries and two to three mushrooms to one cup of uncooked cabbage.
2. In a wok or large frying pan, bring oil to as high of a temperature as possible before the oil starts to smoke and burn. Add chopped cabbage (we prefer 1 inch square pieces for this recipe) and cook on the highest heat possible for two to three minutes, stirring only occasionally so that the cabbage is allowed to brown in spots.
3. Add sliced shiitake mushrooms, sliced radishes, and goji berries, and continue cooking on high heat for one to two minutes. Add rice wine to deglaze the pan, and continue cooking on high heat for another minute or two, until all of the ingredients are fully cooked and sizzling hot. Serve immediately with rice, with kosher salt sprinkled on top.