Let me count the reasons why:
1. It's available all year long and keeps for weeks in the fridge so it’s always on hand
2. There are many varieties: Asian (napa), green, red and many more
3. Every variety is delicious raw or cooked
4. It tastes good with no additional fancy preparations
5. Every country has their own special version of cabbage salad
6. You can ferment it for sauerkraut, or kimchi
7. You can stuff it with its big enveloping leaves
8. It’s terrific shredded and fried as a side dish for tofu, pork, duck, chicken and fish
9. You can cook it long and slow with chicken and bacon or with apples and vinegar if you have red cabbage
10. And…its cheap.
11. And healthy.
Here are some of my favorite recipes for cabbage salads. Two are from previous blogs and all but the first are vegetarian:
Vietnamese Chicken Salad
(Serves 4 as a main course or 8 as a side dish)
Special note: You need to taste and adjust this salad before serving. Some like it spicier, some like it sweeter or saltier and some like it with more sour flavor from the limes. Don't add salt at first since the fish sauce is salty. Remember that adding the peanuts (and you need lots) adds to the flavor so when you taste it, try it with the peanuts and basil and mint.
· 1 ½ -2-pound green cabbage, shredded, but not too finely: I don't use the mandoline
· 2 carrots, peeled and cut into julienne strips
· ¼ cup thinly sliced red onion
Optional: ¼ cup dried shrimp from Asian market boiled for 5 minutes in water and then drained and chopped. It adds a very fishy shrimp flavor that is very authentic but not to everyone's taste.
For dressing :
· 1/3 cup Asian fish sauce (Nuoc Mam)
· 2 teaspoons cup brown sugar
· 1 teaspoon (or to taste) Thai or Vietnamese chili garlic sauce
· 2 teaspoon finely chopped peeled ginger
· 1 tablespoon garlic clove, finely chopped
· ¼ cup fresh lime juice from 2-3 limes
· 1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled ginger
· For topping:
· 2/3 cup coarsely chopped roasted peanuts
· 1/2 cup packed torn basil leaves
· 1/2 cup packed torn mint (optional)
· ½ cup bean sprouts
· ½ -1 cup leftover boned shredded, cooked chicken (optional)
1. Combine salad ingredients
2. Make dressing by combining ingredients by hand or in a blender
3. Toss salad: Mix dressing with cabbage and carrots and shrimp
4. Assemble salad: .Arrange chicken and bean sprouts over tossed salad and sprinkle with peanuts, basil, and mint. Serve at room temperature or chilled. You can pass around extra peanuts and lime juice for people to add to their salads.
Lebanese Cabbage Salad (Salatet Malfoof)
This is a simple cabbage salad that tastes fresh and delicious. It comes together very quickly and stays fresh for a few days. I learned how to make it from my friend Cindy. Her Lebanese mother, Gladys Payne makes it frequently and they’ve never seen it in the United States. This is the healthy version of coleslaw. The flavors meld together so that it’s hard to figure out exactly what’s in it. But it is very simple: lemon, garlic, spearmint and a little oil. Cindy’s mother adds the tomato which isn’t authentic but really kicks it up both visually, texturally and taste wise.
1 small cabbage (about 2 ½ pounds), thinly shredded ( I use a mandolin which works great)
1 TBS salt
2 TBS lemon
6 garlic cloves, pressed or mashed
1 TBS dried mint (fresh mint will give it an entirely different taste)
1 cup petite diced tomatoes drained of juice
1 TBS olive oil
1. Combine cabbage and salt in a bowl and massage the salt into the cabbage. Let it sit for 20-30 minutes and drain off any liquid. Taste for saltiness. If it’s too salty, rinse it with fresh water until it is the desired saltiness.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients and taste. If you like more mint or lemon, adjust the quantities. The garlic and mint flavors will be more pronounced after the flavors have a chance to meld.
3. Refrigerate for an hour. This salad will keep for a few days refrigerated.
INDONESIAN PILAF SALAD
(adapted from KASHI™ recipe)
I’ve made this salad many times with great reviews from family and friends. This is my simplified version still made with Kashi™ Whole Grain Pilaf which comes in a box and can be found at Greenstar. For some reason Wegmans stopped carrying Kashi 7 grain pilaf even though it's a terrific product and extremely healthy. The box holds three packets each with about a cup of pilaf. It’s a chewy flavorful blend of whole grain oats, brown rice, rye, hard red wheat, triticale, buckwheat, barley and sesame seeds. In case you don’t know what Triticale is, (and I didn’t) the Kashi folks explain that it is “a natural cross between durum wheat and rye with higher protein than both. A ½ cup serving contains 6 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein.
Indonesian Pilaf (from a previous fingerlakesfeasting post)
- 1 packets of Kashi™ 7 Whole Grain Pilaf
- 1 cup whole roasted peanuts
- 3 scallions, sliced thinly
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon coriander
- 1/2 cup organic currants
- 3 medium carrot, sliced (about 1/2 cup)
- 1 cup organic red cabbage, shredded
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- ½ bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped (optional)
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon mirin or other sweetener such as honey
- 2 teaspoons fresh ginger root, grated
- 1 teaspoons crushed red chili flakes (I omit this but add it if you like it spicy)
- Cook Kashi Pilaf. Each packet holds 1 cup. Boil two cups water and then add the pilaf along with the cumin and coriander and salt . Cover and cook about 25 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed. Add the carrots for the last 10 minutes of the pilaf cooking time.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine chopped cabbage, scallions, currants, cilantro, and peanuts with cooked Pilaf mixture, and mix well.
- In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger root, and vinegar, whisk together, add to pilaf mixture, stir well and taste to adjust the seasoning. Enjoy.
- This is best made ahead of time to let the flavors harmonize.
- Mix together dressing ingredients and set aside.
- Place sliced red cabbage in a bowl, mix with ¼ tsp sea salt, place a place over it and weigh it down for one hour to extract some of the liquid. (I skip this step)
- Mix together all the vegetables, tofu, and peanuts and toss with dressing.
Note: Taste for seasoning. I usually adjust with more ume vinager and more soy sauce.