White Foods

October 31, 2009

“If you want your cabbage chopped, washed, dried, sprinkled with salt or vinegar, there is nothing healthier. To enjoy it more, sprinkle with honey vinegar. Washed and dried, with chopped rue and coriander and sprinkled with salt. It does you good, permits no disease to remain in the body, and does the bowels good. If there was any disease present internally, cabbage will cure all, remove all sicknesses from the head and the eyes and cure them. Take it in the morning before eating.”

Cato (234 BC to 149 BC) from On Farming

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I love a good food quote, although I just read some rather asinine things Cato had to say on keeping slaves—he was notorious for his brutal views (ah the Romans)—but I’ll give it to him that his recipe sounds intriguing.

We’re coming to the end of our wonderful CSA (community supported agriculture) deliveries and the lettuce has given way to copious quantities of cabbage, turnips and cauliflower. Did I mention copious quantities of cabbage? I mean… lots of it. And cauliflower. I’ve been thinking out loud about these pale vegetables and the kind of nutrition that they give us, so I did a bit of research into cabbage. Cabbage, apparently is low in saturated fat and cholesterol and high in dietary fibre, vitamins C,K,A, B6, calcium, iron (who knew?) magnesium, manganese, folate, potassium, and thiamin. Cabbage also has a varied history and appears in raw, cooked, and pickled form on virtually every continent—from Chinese versions of bok and napa cabbages, to Korean kim chee, to Russian stuffed cabbage and borscht soups, to Irish corned beef and cabbage, not to mention Indian poriyals and uppama and of course the ubiquitous sloppy coleslaw found all across American diners.
Here is a terrific link to history and lore on cabbages that I found—it made me rethink my current ennui with cabbage. http://www.vegparadise.com/highestperch33.html.

A quick and delicious dish I’ve come up with to eat through my cabbages before the next CSA delivery arrives is as follows:

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Sautéed Cabbage

½- 1 head of cabbage (any kind), shredded into long thin bits
1-2 ears of corn cut fresh off the cob.
1 garlic clove grated or minced
1 shallot or small onion sliced in thin rings
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
2 curry leaves if you have them
A handful of unsweetened dry coconut or a handful of chopped cashews.
2-3 tablespoons oil

Sauté the shallot and garlic in 1 tablespoon oil till onions start to soften and garlic is starting to brown. Add the shredded cabbage and sauté till beginning to soften, then add in the corn. Sauté till cabbage is cooked, though not soggy. In a separate pan heat 1 to 2 tsp oil and add the mustard and fennel seeds and curry leaves. Heat till the mustard seeds start to sputter, about 3 minutes. Add the coconut or cashews and sauté just until coconut starts to brown. Pour the spice and coconut mixture over the cabbage and corn. Mix well. Season with salt and black pepper and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes.

This is tasty as a side dish or as a light supper served with rice.

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