October 6, 2012

Braised Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage

IMG_7064We all have those food memories that make us crave things from time to time. For people like me, such cravings inspire trips to the grocery store so I can fulfill the desire in my own kitchen as soon as absolutely possible. I was never much of a carnivore, and when dining out I would often order dishes on the menu purely based on what it was being served with. The gratins of yukon gold potatoes, satueed kale, corn pudding, heirloom tomato salads, braised cabbage, or mashed potatoes whetted my appetite far more than the fillets of beef, smoked pork chops, or market fish. It's not surprising that being a vegetarian came so naturally to me. 

One of my first and most significant restaurant jobs was at Mustard's Grill in Napa Valley, California. There was a braised cabbage on the menu that was served with mashed potatoes, chinese style mustard, and a house smoked pork chop that made made me swoon. Perhaps you are thinking that cooked cabbage is an odd dish to get excited over, but it was so darn good. Savory, slightly sweet, and packed with flavor, it is the perfect accompaniment to the comfort foods we love when the climate is cool.  

Just looking at the deep magenta color of a cabbage you should be alerted to the fact that it is loaded with antioxidants. It is a powerful source of vitamin C as well as vitamins A and K. These antioxidant rich vitamins along with the phytochemical content of anticancer compounds known as glucosinolates play a key role in the powers of the cabbage as well as other cruciferous family members including cauliflower, broccoli, and brussels sprouts. Eating cruciferous vegetables on a regular basis is recommended by the American Cancer Society to help reduce the risk of cancer. Studies have shown that the higher the intake of these vegetables, the lower the rates of colon, prostate, lung, and breast cancer. Cabbage has also shown to be effective in treating peptic ulcers as it is high in the amino acid glutamine which helps in the growth and regeneration of cells in the gastrointestinal tract.

Braised Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage
Serves 4-6
For all ingredients, please use those that are organic or grown without pestcides.
Healthily adapted from Mustard’s Grill Napa Valley Cookbook (Ten Speed Press; 2001) by Cindy Pawlcyn
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium sweet or red onion, thinly sliced
1 head red cabbage
1 apple, peeled and grated
1/3 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1/3 cup palm sugar or maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground cumin
1 bay leaf
  sea salt
  freshly ground black pepper
Cut the cabbage in half lengthwise and cut out the core. Cut each half in half again lengthwise, then slice into 1/2 inch pieces.
Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions to the pan and sprinkle with a bit of sea salt. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the onions begin to soften and start to caramelize.
Add the cabbage and cook for about 15 minutes until it starts to become tender. Add the apple, vinegar, water, sugar or syrup, cumin, and bay leaf. Mix well and lower the heat to a medium-low temperature. Simmer for 20-30 minutes until the juices are syrupy and the cabbage is shiny and tender, but not overcooked.
Remove from the heat and season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Serve immediately or refrigerate in a sealed container for up to a week.







Categories: Fall & Winter, Vegetables

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