Post by Alexandra, from Ombailamos
One of the first vegetable experiments I attempted was sauteed/braised red cabbage. There is someone who should be credited for the basic recipe, but I confess I can't remember who; so let's just say thank you to all those brave souls who have gone before in attempting to serve their protein with something other than starch on the side.
Red cabbage is the prettier, slightly less funky sibling of the cabbage we know and love in cole slaw. The outermost leaves are best discarded, since they tend to be a bit leathery. The rest of the leaves may be sliced off the stem without regard to aesthetics, as the goal is to reduce the entire vegetable to a large bowl full of fairly fine slaw; but this will be eaten with a fork, not a spoon, so don't get too knife-happy.
Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a large saute pan; I use our big risotto pan. Add the cabbage and a little bit of basic seasoning - use what you have and like: I recently used a combination of sea salt (a TINY pinch); black pepper; coriander; dried shallots; and Worcestershire sauce - stir to thoroughly coat the leaves, cover, and let cook over medium-low heat for ten minutes. When the timer goes off, stir and assess. Continue cooking (covered) until the cabbage has gone limp, about another 5-10 minutes. Now toss with a quarter-cup of good-quality sherry or white wine or beer and let it sit on low till you are read to dish it up. There; that was easy, wasn't it?
Note on temperatures: my 30-yr-old cooktop's dials are marked 1 to 10 and my gas flow is wretched. Medium-low is a 4, for me. Your mileage may vary. The goal is to maintain a low simmer. Also, there is a lot of moisture in vegetables, so I leave a wooden spoon in the pan and let the pan lid sit on that to let some steam escape, as my goal is not cabbage soup.
This is the point at which creativity comes in. You can add applesauce and a splash of balsamic, if you like; you can add canned matchstick beets; you can add crumbled bacon; or you can do what I like best and add a cup of crumbled gorgonzola cheese (with a splash of cream, at the end). Yum.
This is a fairly assertive dish and is a great accompaniment to pork or duck. Extremely inexpensive, as well as easy. And, like many vegetable dishes, easily adapted; onion or apple or my new friend, fennel, can be cooked along with the cabbage to deliver a slightly different, but equally delicious, result.
A six-inch head of cabbage combined with a large fennel bulb provided four generous servings. And I do mean generous. If you have a complete dinner with three dishes, it would probably suffice for six. Unless they go back for seconds like I do.
It re-heats very well and hey, it's purple! Remember, the more color there is in your food, the more varied nutrition you are getting. Don't fear the purple, y'all.