Cabbage keeps well for long periods of time but still this is no excuse for the fact that 2/3 of a head of this leafy green has been inhabiting my fridge for two months. Scary! I even moved the cabbage with me when I changed apartments three weeks ago. Yes, indeed, I am very fond of this particular head of cabbage. But it was time to let it go and last night I made this wonderful crunchy cabbage salad inspired by Heidi Swanson's Chopped Miso Salad recipe.
Hmmm... All the interesting things about cabbage I just learned on Wikipedia! Cabbage, apparently is from the mustard family and has originated in the Mediterranean by selective breeding of wild mustard plants for suppressed intermode length. It was known to the ancient Greek and Romans and was praised for its medicinal properties. The powdery, waxy finish on the leaves is called bloom, the bitterness is due to glucosinolate, and it is rich in riboflavin, vitamin C and glutamine. China is the largest producer of cabbage in the world, followed by India and Russia. South Korea is fourth (kimchi?) and Poland is 6th (cabbage rolls, anyone?). And now that we have covered the basics on cabbage, lets get to the recipe.
Crunchy Cabbage Salad with Miso Dressing
1 smallish head of cabbage
1 bunch chives, chopped
1 C almonds, pan roasted and chopped
1 C cooked garbanzo beans (optional)
2 Tbs miso (I used red miso)
2 Tbs brown sugar
1/2 tsp mustard
1 tsp sesame oil
1/4 C rice vinegar
1/4 C olive oil
To make the dressing, combine all ingredients except the olive oil, in a small jar or in a blender. Mix well. Add the oil. Shake the jar or blend until well mixed. This makes about twice as much dressing as you will need for the salad. I very much liked the dressing and will use it on other salads, but if you don't want extra then halve the recipe.
Chop the cabbage in very, very small pieces. I chopped it like a big onion - cut it in half, put each half flat on the cutting beard and put 5-6 not all-the-way-through cuts lengthwise (from the core to the tip) and then I sliced it very thinly starting from the tip. When I got to the core, I cut around it. Cabbage is usually way too hard and fibrous for me so I always give it my secret family treatment - I put the chopped cabbage confetti in a bowl, salted them lightly and kneaded then for a minute. This can be done with one or both hands, you basically squeeze the cabbage and mix it, squeeze and mix until it's all softened up. The motion is really very similar to kneading. Add the chives, almonds and beans. Add the dressing, toss, chill. This salad can easily keep for a couple of days in the fridge.
This can easily be made into a left-overs salad - a meal to take care of all of last week's Farmer's Marked odds and ends. The dressing is slightly sweet but bright from the vinegar. It goes very well with the cabbage, but you can easily also add lettuce (finely chopped), blanched green and wax beans (cut into 1/2 inch pieces), peas, asparagus, cucumber (chopped into matchsticks), green onions, other green herbs.
The garbanzo beans are optional - I wanted to make a meal out of the salad - and can be substituted with some other type of beans (like navy beans or baby lima beans). I very much recommend that you just buy a pound of dry beans, cook them with some salt and keep them in the fridge or freezer for adding to soups and salads instead of buying the canned stuff which is (a) way more expensive and (b) way worse tasting. You can substitute the beans with stir-fried extra firm tofu too (or maybe even chicken but don't quote me on that).
De-li-cious! Next on my list of summer adventures? Panzanella!