As winter drags on and you unearth yet another hunk of frozen meat from your freezer to braise “low and slow” and serve with mashed potatoes or roasted root vegetables, consider this: maybe you need something light and refreshing too. Sure you can make just another salad, but I like to experiment using foods that are at least sort of seasonal considering it’s the dead of winter.
Cabbage isn’t terribly sexy, and personally, I’ve never really liked it. Then, one night, I decided to make fish tacos at home. I am completely inflexible when it comes to trying new recipes. I will not substitute ingredients or stray from that recipe until I have one attempt under my belt. This drives Mr. President totally nuts. But, I wanted to be sure that if the fish tacos were unsuccessful, it wasn’t because I didn’t make them the way I was told. And, the recipe called for the crispy fried fish to be served on warm corn tortillas with a zesty jalapeno and cabbage concoction. So, I was forced into eating cabbage, actually. Since then, I’ve been hooked!
Now, I enjoy all sorts of cabbage salad and, for the easiest side dish ever, I sometimes just cut a head of cabbage into fat wedges and drizzle with olive oil and lemon before roasting it to sweet-with-slightly-burnt-edges perfection. I even grew cabbage this past year in my fall/winter garden. The beautiful Cour di Bue cabbages grew so well and survived such cold temperatures that I will plant twice the amount this year since they keep for such a long time after harvest.
I discovered this now slightly adapted cabbage salad recipe in a past issue of Bon Appetit magazine, my favorite source of new recipes, cooking tutorials, and endless inspiration. Because we harvested a head of cabbage just days before Christmas, I knew exactly what to serve with my holiday smoked chicken. Everything here is simple but just plain works – it’s at its best with hearty roasted or braised meats. Just last week I served it again with a beer braised grass fed brisket.
Ingredients (Serves 6-8)
1/2 head of green cabbage, cored and sliced into thin ribbons
1 tart apple peeled, cored, and cut into thin matchsticks
1 cup chopped or torn kale leaves, stems removed
2 Tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 Tbsp. good quality olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Simply toss all ingredients together in a big bowl. I like to use my hands to work the lemon juice and olive oil evenly through the greens. This salad is best served soon after preparing, but because cabbage and kale are sturdy, it holds up amazingly well as leftovers for the next day. The lemon juice also helps prevent the apples from oxidizing, or turning brown, so it will still look pretty too.