Cabbage can be a wonderful thing. What vegetable is more modestly delicious? As an inexpensive vegetable with a long storage life, cabbage is all too often cast aside like a leftover before its day.
In northern Ohio, fields of cabbage never went unnoticed during the muggy hothouse-like summer weather. Way before passing a cabbage field, the strong smell of floral sulfur permeated the air and flowed with the breeze that kicked up the summer heat. Lost leaves fell behind and rotted on row upon row of farm soil. The smell never really went away until frost. Cabbage fields do stink.
Cabbage Salad Creations
What cabbage lacks in glamor, it makes up for in versatility. Making a cabbage salad that goes beyond the standard coleslaw staple is easy. Slice tender layers of leaves into thin strips, add just a few basic ingredients and in a few minutes a celebration salad worthy of familiar family, dear friends or distinguished guests is born.
Prepared the right way, cabbage boasts a taste that reveals its stellar nutritional profile. Packed with fiber, beta-carotene and vitamin C and other healthy nutrients cabbage is one of those wonder foods in the cruciferous vegetable family.
The waxy leaves that press a cabbage into a circular form can be hard to hold in place, especially right after they are washed. Pools of water shed from the many layers of leaves. Standing water can lead to a kitchen disaster. One slip of the cabbage and another of a large knife and before you know it you are in the emergency room lamenting not having bought a pre-shredded bag even if the nutrients fade in a precut mix.
Starting Whole Works Best
As is true with most prepared dishes, it is best to start from scratch with the real thing – a plain head of cabbage. Take a closer look. The uneven layers of cabbage leaves reveal an ever-fading pastel pallet of green. The center of the cabbage has a lighter color that looks almost like over-whipped sweat cream at the very core. The taste has a distinctive inclusion of sulfur that becomes sharper as the leaves lighten and the cabbage ages.
Small young cabbages have the most pleasing mellow flavor with a faint sugary taste that counteracts the predominate sharp bite. Slight hints of fresh sweetness in a hearty vegetable make a delightful contrast. Since cabbage leans toward the more savory side, the addition of a sweet dressing creates a more pleasing dish.
My friend Jane put this salad together in a snap by using bagged shredded cabbage and raw walnuts. Sometimes, shortcuts are fine. Good friends will never mind.
Jane’s Cabbage, Cranberry Walnut Salad
Some of the most cherished recipes come from family and friends. Jane has a knack for bringing the best out in everything. Try her easy to prepare salad with fresh cabbage, and you are sure to agree.
Resist the urge to use fancy flavored craisins like cherry, orange, blueberry, etc. The plain, regular variety of craisin works best for this recipe.
1/3 cup walnuts, toasted
3 cups of shredded cabbage
1/2 cup poppy seed dressing
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/3 cup craisins
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread walnuts into a cookie sheet. Toast walnuts about 7 minutes or just until turning brown. Set pan aside to cool.
Remove outer leaves of cabbage, wash and drain. Finely shred cabbage and place in a large bowl. Add poppy seed dressing, plain yogurt and craisins. Crumble in walnuts and stir to combine with other ingredients.
Serve immediately. Refrigerate any leftovers.