Red Cabbage Returns

October 10, 2006

Red cabbage

Have to admit, I was dreading the return of the red cabbage. I think research would show that this vegetable is responsible for more people jacking in the whole organic box malarkey than any other.

More than almost any other ingredient, it seems to resist novelty and experimentation. Churlish in company, it stains everything it comes into contact with a deep, moody purple. An essentially solitary vegetable, vinegar and acidic apples seem to be it’s only culinary friends, although onions and sugar occassionally pop round for a neighbourly cuppa.

But treated with respect (braised in the old-fashioned way, with sweet, sour and spicy flavours), this grumpy old bugger mellows and softens. It even becomes, if not the life and soul of the party, at least a warm and charming guest at the table. This Tuesday evening, we invited him round for dinner with a couple of meaty Well Hung bangers.

Red cabbage and sausage

Braised red cabbage

Shred the cabbage fine, wash well and drain. In a large, heavy pan gently saute a sliced onion until soft. Add the cabbage, a tablespoon of sugar, a good glug of wine vinegar, a couple of crushed cloves, two peeled and diced apples. Cover and cook on a very low heat for 2 hours, at least. When the cabbage is soft and reduced in bulk, season well. I reckon this tastes better made a day in advance, and gently re-heated.
(adapted from Leith’s Cookery Bible)

I think we’re going to have to do some serious research into other ways of cooking red cabbage, if we’re going to maintain our veg box sanity this winter. Any of you lot got any favourite ways of cooking this old curmudgeon?

16 Responses to “Red Cabbage Returns”

  1. There is a limit to how many jars of pickled cabbage a kitchen cupboard can hold and this is one instance when I run out of receptive neighbours!
    Rather like the egg whites saved in the fridge for making meringues, my red cabbages hang around until I get fed up with looking at them and then go to the compost heap. I wouldn’t be surprised if they come through the composting process complete and whole in a year’s time still needing to be dealt with.

  2. BB's Richard Says:

    Fun with red cabbage (not something you hear said everyday!)……

    Red cabbage juice is apparently an indicator as to whether things are acid or alkali (like that old pH paper stuff you might remember from school!). Add the juice to raw egg and see what happens (that’s to New Scientist for this piece of off-topic info!)

    (PS You can take the scientist out of science but you can’t take science out of the scientist!)

  3. gastropunk Says:

    spinning_jeni, i think you’re right about red cabbage never composting down. it’s seemingly indestructable. probably has a half-life of a few hundred years. they should be used for building, insulation, laying roads etc

  4. gastropunk Says:

    BB’s Richard, what’s meant to happen when you add red cabbage juice to egg white? is it explosive? should i be wearing goggles? and how much fun will it be, on a scale of 1 to 10?

  5. Cloggie Says:

    I am so glad you posted this – as I got my first one last week and have been trying to find an alternative recipe to braised cabbage (lovely as it is but it would be nice to do something different as last year I ended up with a freezer full of it).

    I made red cabbage slaw once – which is really desperate because it turns out looking like red mush, not very pleasing on the eye or tastebuds either.

    I was hoping for some creative enlightment gastropunk but I guess will have a wait a bit longer and carry on more research and experimenting (but perhaps not in the scientific sense!). In the meantime, I’m now changing my veg box order to try and avoid more red cabbage, at least in the short term!

  6. gastropunk Says:

    cloggie, sorry i couldn’t shed any light on the red cabbage connundrum. there is one recipe i’ve done a few times with RC and chicken – i’ll post it up soon. if you stumble upon any good recipes on your culinary travels, let us know!

  7. organicobserver Says:

    We usually only manage to eat half a RC. Chopped up small in a salad with a good French dressing. Will try braising the other half we have left.

    /me checks tomorrows delivery for sign of RC.

  8. gastropunk Says:

    organicobserver, me likes the idea of french dressing with shredded RC – thanks for the tip!

  9. We made a rather lovely salad of finely sliced red cabbage and fennel (also from the veg box) dressed with mustardy vinaigrette. Perfect with something from the grill.

    Also, have you tried blanching the sliced cabbage for 3 or 4 minutes, draining it, then stir frying in a wok with garlic and chilli to taste. Finish with a dash of rice wine or dry sherry. Yum

  10. Kinson Says:

    I’m not opposed to red cabbage (though i think it’s only few weeks since they stopped coming – you mean to say I can expect them to start again soon???)

    It’s that the red cabbage is the tardis of all vegetables – there’s more inside it than meets the eye. Resulting in at least 2 portions of red cabbage a week for a couple. Instead of car-pooling – may be we need red-cabbage pooling?

    I have tried allsorts – my favourite is to cut it fine, and cook it with onions and tomatoes (and anything else I can think of at the time). A sort of cabbage pasta (that’s cabbage instead of pasta, not with – that would be weird…)

    It has been treated to many of my random ideas – I won’t dignify by calling them recipes.


  11. gastropunk Says:

    phantom staple remover,

    thanks for the two fine sounding recipe suggestions which i will certainly try out. never thought of stir-frying them – makes perfect sense.

    your comment reminded me of a joke i heard recently –
    Q: “Whats a Wok for?”
    A: “Thwowing at wabbits”


  12. gastropunk Says:

    kinson, if red cabbage is the tardis of veg boxes, then which veg is the millenium falcon? answers on an e-postcard, please

  13. Kinson Says:

    Now you’re not trying to make me out as some sort of geeky sci-fi fan are you? OK, for a while I did own a light sabre, but, readers, it was only to get over a childhood wish for one. And it’s now in the safe(ish) hands of my 3yo nephew.

    But back to your question – it needs to be a stalwart – perhaps the onion? It doesn’t look much, and you wouldn’t want to start a rebellion with it, but it does what it’s required.

  14. gastropunk Says:

    kinson, i’ve never thought of you as a sci-fi fan… geeky? well… you are a Marillion fan and have been known to take Computer Programming manuals on holiday so you qualify on two counts at least… 😉

  15. potterbee Says:

    yes to stir fry cabbage – it goes so well with broccoli and simple soy based sauces

    and actually, red cabbage and pasta isn’t so weird – saute with copious amounts of garlic, onions, and olive oil for a start adding in carrots, peas and so forth tossed with linguine and cheese. so good so healthy

    we enjoy red cabbage cooked into refried beans to which we also add carrots and peas.

    a real red cabbage treat is to juice it with carrots and if you have, oranges, otherwise apples.

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