Monday, 10 December 2018

Vanish that Veg! Cabbage

Half a cabbage.  Most of a bag of carrots.  Several potatoes which are starting to sprout.

However carefully I buy my vegetables, I often find myself needing to use up one or two which have been sitting in the fridge for far too long.  I need recipes that convert a large quantity of one vegetable into the main part of a meal.  And I don't mean soup.  I mean something that my kids will eat some, if not all, of.  Something that won't be lurking accusingly in the fridge five days later.

I'm gradually building up a collection of these recipes.  These are dishes that I've made several times.  They're tasty, easy, and packed with vegetables.  So have a look through your fridge, read through the recipes, and let's vanish that veg together!

And to start the series... it's cabbage!

Cabbage

Credit: Eitvydas, from Wikimedia Commons

Cabbage is a prime suspect for being overlooked.  For one thing, a single cabbage goes a long way.  I remember adding it to all manner of dishes - shepherds pie, stir fry, bolognaise - in a frantic attempt to use it up.

For another thing, it's not exactly everyone's favourite vegetable.  I like it.  But none of these recipes has persuaded my boys to eat any cabbage at all.  My one minor success so far was with some potato and cabbage fritters, which weren't entirely successful in other ways (such as sticking together) but the boys did actually eat one each.  Here are two old favourites and one newer addition to my repertoire.

Stir-braised cabbage with cumin

This is adapted from a recipe in Nigella Bites which uses nigella seeds (of course!)  I could happily eat a bowlful of this by itself, but it works well as a side dish for fish and mashed potatoes, too.

Savoy or green cabbage
Splash of vegetable oil
1-3 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 vegetable stock cube
100-200ml hot water

Use somewhere between half and one cabbage, depending on how much you think you'll eat.  Finely shred the cabbage.  Heat a splash of oil in a large saucepan, and put in the cumin seeds.  Use 1 tsp for half a cabbage, up to 3 tsp if you have lots of cabbage and really like cumin.  Sizzle the cumin for a few seconds, then add the cabbage.  Stir it around for a couple of minutes so it gets coated in oil and just starts to cook.

Add the stock cube and just about enough hot water to cover the bottom of the pan.  Put the lid on and leave to cook for about 4 minutes, by which time the cabbage should be fairly soft.  When it's cooked to your liking, use a slotted spoon to serve.  You'll end up with some of the liquid and cumin seeds left in the pan, but hopefully not too much.

Charred lemon and olive cabbage


My first two veg boxes both contained a pointed cabbage.  It's not a variety I'd usually buy, but I happened to have this recipe (from the Feb 2017 Waitrose magazine) which is really good.  Zaatar is a spice mix that I'd never bought before; if you don't want to, just leave it out.

8 green olives, finely chopped (mine were from a jar)
1/2 garlic clove, finely grated
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
A little chopped mint if you have it
1 large pointed cabbage
1 tsp zaatar

Put the olives, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and mint in a fairly wide bowl.  Season and whisk together.

Cut the cabbage into quarters lengthways, then cut the quarters into 3 wedges.  Heat a griddle pan or a lightly oiled frying pan over a high heat.  Cook the cabbage wedges until softened and charred, which only takes a few minutes on each side.  You'll probably need to do it in batches.

Put the cooked cabbage straight into the dressing.  Turn to coat.  Sprinkle with the zaatar to serve.  It can be eaten warm or at room temperature, and keeps well for lunch the next day too.  Nice with rice dishes.

Dhal with cabbage


Dhal is one of my favourite curries to make, partly because it tastes good and partly because it's easy.  Unlike most curries, you don't start off by frying onions and garlic; you just put the lentils on to boil and then have plenty of time to do all the chopping while they cook.  Also, chillies and ginger freeze well, and the other ingredients keep for ages, so if I have a cabbage to use, I know I'll almost always be able to make this recipe.  It comes from Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cookery.

200g red split lentils, washed and drained
1 litre cold water
1/2 tsp turmeric
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 cloves garlic
75g onion
225g green cabbage
1-2 green chillies
1 tsp salt
1 medium tomato, finely chopped (optional)
1/2 tsp fresh ginger, peeled and grated

Put the lentils and water into a large pan and bring to the boil.  Skim off the foam from the top, then add the turmeric and give it a stir.  Leave the lid on, turn the heat right down, and leave to cook for between 30-45 minutes.  Madhur Jaffrey says 1hr 15 minutes, but they're usually done well before then if you need them to be.  Stir fairly regularly to make sure they don't stick.

While the lentils cook, get on with the chopping.  Finely chop the garlic, slice the onion thinly and shred the cabbage thinly too.  Chop the chillies - you can do this straight out of the freezer if they've been frozen.

When the lentils look fairly well cooked, add the tomato, ginger and 1/2 tsp salt.  Stir and leave to cook while you sort out the cabbage.

Heat the oil in a frying pan.  Add the cumin seeds, then the garlic.  Stir it around for a minute until it's just starting to brown, then add the onion, cabbage and chillies.  Stir and fry the cabbage mixture for about 10 minutes until it's softened and slightly browned.  Add a little salt.

Tip the cabbage mixture and any extra oil into the lentils.  Give it all a good stir and check the seasoning, adding a little more salt or some garam masala if you like.  Serve with rice or naan.

Other suggestions

The Budget Bytes website has lots of recipes for cabbage, including this one for colcannon, and this one for beef and cabbage stir fry.

And there's always coleslaw, of course!  Although I find there's a limit to how much coleslaw one family can get through unless you eat it morning, noon and night.

Over to you

Do you have any favourite recipes for cabbage?  Please share them - I'd love to know!