Do you look at or hear that word and feel a trigger squeezed in the middle of your head, one that connects your olfactory senses to a certain smell? I don’t know how it’s even possible to conjure up an aroma in your mind, but I know what you mean when I mention cabbage and I see you involuntarliy wrinkle up your nose.
Personally, I blame it on my maternal grandmother. We shared a house when I was growing up and believe me, whenever she decided to make stuffed cabbage you knew it right away and then for days and days afterward.
Not that the layers of tender-soft cabbage that had cooked so very long and slowwwwwly with ground meat, spices and tomato sauce wasn’t delicious – oh, yes it was. It was just that the lingering reek of overcooked cabbage that crept up the stairs, under the door and into your room was something you had to put up with in order to get a taste of one of grandma’s culinary masterpieces.
Cabbage deserves a break. Aside from the unfortunate aromatic side effect which most cruciferous vegetables suffer when cooked too much, cabbage has a sweet, gentle nature. It’s there whether cooked or raw, but I prefer cabbage cooked quickly, every-so-slightly warmed; enough to just wilt the sturdy leaves.
This Asian-style slaw bridges a gap between making a salad and cooking a variety of vegetable as a side dish to go with fish or chicken. It’s fresh, healthy and beautifully colorful.
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 carrots, peeled and sliced into matchsticks
1 leek or 1 bunch scallions, white and light green section thinly sliced
1 red, orange or yellow bell pepper, cut into strips
1/2 head savoy cabbage
1 cup sugar snap peas, sliced into slivers
Handful chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons agave nectar, honey or sugar
1 teaspoon Asian chili garlic sauce
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- Cook the carrots and leeks with the olive oil in a large skillet, covered, until softened slightly, about 5 minutes. Uncover, turn the heat up to medium-high and add all the vegetables up to the sugar snap peas to the pan.
- Toss everything around while it cooks for a few minutes, until the cabbage is just wilted. Stir in the cilantro.
- Whisk together the lime juice, sesame oil, agave nectar, chili sauce, ginger and salt until blended. Pour over the vegetables and stir. Serve warm or at room temperature.