Daylight. Sunshine (albeit just one day’s worth) — suddenly, spring feels like a possibility. Thoughts turn to green. And, on the market, hands turn to cabbages.
“This time of year, our cabbages are stored from last fall,” notes fourth-generation farmer Ryan Race, whose stall at the Union Square Greenmarket has both green and purple varieties on offer. “They’re going to be a little bit sweeter than your regular cabbage that you might get from the supermarket, from California or wherever, because the starches have turned to sugar. I think they’re at their best right now.
“As far as choosing a cabbage, look for firmness; make sure it’s not saggy or dehydrated.” Then peel off the outer leaves if they look a little tough, shred, core, and slice away.
If cooking’s not really your thing, Via Carota‘s March menu has a delicious shredded-cabbage dish, tossed with toasty farro.
Some eating ideas:
1. Shred a quarter of a head of cabbage. Boil or steam with the lid on in just a splash of apple juice and a pinch of caraway seeds. Serve on whole-grain toast, spritzed with lemon and topped with a poached egg.
2. Slaw. Shredded red cabbage, red onion, carrot, fennel, apples. Let the slaw sit in a dressing of olive oil, mustard, and lemon juice for an hour to soften. Mix in a good handful of chopped mint and top with roasted peanuts.
3. Braised. Shred cabbage. Braise for half an hour (or roast) in a splash of apple juice, a splash of red wine, a squeeze of honey, a handful of dried cranberries, and a couple of cloves.
4. Gratin. Put 3 cups (half a cabbage) of shredded white or green cabbage and 1 finely chopped onion in a buttered baking dish. Season well. Pour over 3/4 cup cream. Cover and bake for 45 minutes at 350°F, then top with grated gruyère cheese and bake again uncovered for 10 minutes to melt the cheese.
5. Salad. Finely shredded green cabbage dressed in olive oil, lemon, and salt. Add a handful of dried raisins, a handful of pine nuts, and a few tsp of capers.
6. Fried with lardons. Finely shred 1/4 of a white cabbage. Chop pancetta or bacon into 1/3 cup lardons and fry. Once they start to crisp, toss in the cabbage and stir to combine. Add a splash of white wine to deglaze the pan and serve with simply baked salmon.
7. Cook some orecchiette pasta along with a couple of handfuls of cherry tomatoes in the same water. At the last minute, add shredded white cabbage and simmer until just cooked. Drain and put back in the pan. Mush the tomatoes into a light sauce, drizzle some garlic oil over the pasta, serve with plenty of grated parmesan.
8. Make some couscous. Fry some spicy sausage, cabbage, and a handful of pitted chopped green olives, then deglaze the pan with white wine and top the couscous with the mixture.
9. Roast a mixture of red cabbage and red onion, well tossed in olive oil, with some sausages nestled in the mix.
10. Add a handful or two of red cabbage to a red-wine beef stew about 20 minutes before the end of cooking time.
In this column, Katherine Knowles covers using what’s seasonal at the Greenmarket this week.