Fatal Attraction

December 11, 2008 at 10:50 am 7 comments

Trio of plates

I like to think it was fate that brought me to today’s recipe.  One those chance encounters that really changes your perspective on life experiences.   As it was, I’d always been a fan of creamy coleslaw but never really a fan of cabbage.  I know there are legions of devotees to such standards as cabbage soups and sauerkraut.  But, hey, I just don’t particularly like the taste of cabbage, okay?    The only reason I like the creamy-style coleslaw you get at every truck stop and road-side diner is because it masks the flavor of the cabbage while still providing a good bit of crunch. 

Savoy Cabbage

With that background info in mind, I wasn’t really looking for a new cabbage recipe.  But during my last stint at the Headhouse Market around Thanksgiving, a customer practically came running over to our table when she spied the heads of crinkly-leafed Savoy cabbage we had.  (Yes, that’s “savoy”, not “savory” for anyone wondering if I forgot the “r”.)  Granted, these are the prettiest members of the Brassicaceae family of crops and worth some attention.  But this customer was so very enthusiastic about them that I had to ask what her plans were for the two heads she bought.   Turns out the NY Times had just printed a recipe for Savoy Cabbage Slaw With Applesauce Vinaigrette that she was dying to try. 

Sliced cabbage

Being the diligent customer service representative that I am, I made a mental note to go home and find the recipe so I could be familiar with it and recommend it to future customers if it proved worthy.  After reading off the list of ingredients, my own curiosity was piqued so much that I decided to give the recipe a try with the small head of Savoy I’d brought home with me. 

Salad from above

Holy molly, boy was I wrong about cabbage!  Or, perhaps to be fair, up until this recipe I hadn’t known how to highlight its strengths.  The fruity vinaigrette and the nutty walnuts along with the zing of the radishes all harmonize with – but do not mask – the cabbage’s flavor.  I’m also certain using Savoy in this recipe is critical to its success since this variety of cabbage is not as poignantly “cabbagy”, and its texture is crisper than some of the standard heads (which I sometimes find almost rubbery). 

Savoy Cabbage Slaw with Applesauce Vinargrette

In my opinion, this recipe is mislabeled though.  It’s not a slaw; it’s a salad.   It’s best served immediately while everything is still crisp and the flavors are distinctive, not merged together like in a typical slaw that usually needs to sit around for awhile  before being consumed.  I did keep my leftovers for three days, although the third day was definitely the last I would have eaten them if I hadn’t finished the last bite then. 

Apple and lemon

My perspective on cabbage has certainly changed forever.  This slaw/salad is that good!  Now that I’ve enjoyed this beautiful variety of cabbage so much, I’m immensely attracted other recipes for it.  Do you have one to recommend?  Nothing fermented please.  I was thinking about trying this one for Braised Savoy Cabbage next. 

Vertical trio of plates

Savoy Cabbage Slaw With Applesauce Vinaigrette
Adapted from the NY Times

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon applesauce
1 teaspoon honey
1/3 cup olive oil

4 cups savoy cabbage, sliced as thinly as possible
1 large bunch red radishes
3 or 4 Granny Smith apples
1 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon mustard seeds (optional)
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
Salt and black pepper to taste.

* I did not grate or shred the radishes and apples.  Instead, I sliced them very thin with a good sharp knife.  I think I prefered this preparation as it ate more like a salad than a slaw.

Make vinaigrette: In a bowl, mix together mustard, salt, vinegar, honey and applesauce. Slowly whisk in olive oil a little at a time until dressing emulsifies. Set aside.

Make salad: Put cabbage in a large bowl. Using the shredding blade of a food processor or a box grater, shred radishes until you have 1 cup. Add to bowl.

Core apples and shred in food processor or with box grater until you have 2 cups. Put shredded apple into a bowl filled with lemon juice and 2 cups water, to prevent apple from browning.

When ready to serve, gently squeeze water from apple, add to cabbage and toss slaw with vinaigrette. Add mustard seeds and toss again. Sprinkle walnuts on top of slaw. Season with salt and pepper.

(makes 6 servings)


Entry filed under: Purely Vegetables, Recipes, Salads. Tags: , , , , , .

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7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. K  |  December 11, 2008 at 5:30 pm

    When I was growing up, my father’s mom would make corned beef and cabbage and the smell of it would keep me lingering outside in sub-zero temperatures until I was nearly frozen stiff. She made the mistake of using purple cabbage once and made the color bleed through everything making it look like something you would want to tie-dye in – not eat.

    I never developed a true appreciation for cabbage until I got out on my own and started eating raw in other things.

    I have two favorite ways to eat cabbage and any type of cabbage should work –

    One is shredded cabbage, broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, and any a little bit of celery – it is really up to your own taste how much – leaves and all. The dressing is a bit of organic peanut butter – no sugar added, soy, minced ginger, garlic and red pepper flake.

    The other is shredded cabbage, toasted nuts – like almond slivers and pumpkin seeds and some jicama cut finely. The dressing for this is olive oil, soy sauce, green onions, rice wine vinegar, garlic and ginger – mixed and let stand for a couple of hours before putting on the salad to give it a chance to let all the flavors infuse.

    I wish I had amounts – but when I cook – I tend to through this and that together and go by my tastes rather than a teaspoon of this, a quarter cup of that.

  • 2. Lo!  |  December 12, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    Ah — savoy cabbage is a beautiful thing. And this salad looks delightful.

    In addition to slaws and salads, I like a nice slow-cooked cabbage paprikash… served with or without noodles, it screams winter comfort food.

  • 3. Jennie  |  December 13, 2008 at 9:21 am

    K – Sounds like we had very similar expeirences with cabbage growing up. Got some PA Dutch heritage in your family, by any chance? 🙂 I love both your recipe ideas, especially including the jicama. No worries about the lack of measurments…that’s the way I cook most of the time too. 🙂

    Lo – I’ve not had a paprikash over noodles…will have to give that a shot now that I’m braver when it comes to cabbage! 🙂

  • 4. K  |  December 13, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    Funny that food can say so much about a culture – yep, Williamson was my grandmother’s maiden name and her family was PA Dutch.

  • 5. Louise  |  February 18, 2009 at 12:08 am

    Hi Jennie,
    Hope you don’t mind, I “borrowed” your fabulous savoy recipe link for a post I did today. There’s even a cabbage recipe you might want to try. Here’s the link if you want to take a peek. Thanks for sharing…

    • 6. Jennie  |  February 18, 2009 at 11:39 am

      Louise – That’s awesome! I love your post! 🙂

  • 7. Louise  |  February 18, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. Your recipe is in good company:)


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