Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Eating Omily: For My Next Trick I Shall Tackle World Peace

Yesterday was a beautiful day to drive along the FDR with a three-legged cat at my side. I am most grateful to the ASPCA for caring enough about the stress level of their fosters to foot the bill for a cab from Brooklyn to the upper east side and back whenever Linda's due for a check-up. She got her staples out today, and we were able to reduce her pain med dosage, so she's much more alert and active now, and looks great! Yay!

Anyway, so, the windows are open, a warm breeze is blowing through, we soar over the Brooklyn Bridge, and then we're riding around the curve of south Brooklyn, and there's the Staten Island Ferry terminal, and the whole glittering harbor...what a day! I could really go for a picnic!

Well, I had to make due that day with a trip to the Farmer's Market, but I hope to get luckier later this week, and maybe you will, too! No, not that way, good heavens, although this recipe is really good, and maybe the parks won't be too crowded yet...

ANYWAY,

you may or may not be aware that cabbage is super-good for you. It's an anti-inflamatory food, it scrubs your whole system clean, it fights cancer, it is awesome! Here's the bad news: if you cook cabbage, you reduce it's powerful health benefits quite significantly.
I do know people who are more than happy to sit around a table cheerily peeling leaves of a head of cabbage and eating it raw.

I am not one of those people. Cabbage is too harsh in both flavor and texture for me to enjoy straight up, and even with all the options cooking offered, it has never been my favourite.

And such a shame! So healthy! So widely available! So cold weather hardy! So CHEAP!

I've finally solved this culinary conundrum however, and brought cabbage from occasional looked-at-sideways visitor, to much-beloved nearly-daily staple. AND, prepared this way, it's the perfect side dish to your grilled burgers and dogs, or diagonally-sliced peanutbutter and jelly sandwiches. Allow me to introduce to you:

Carrot-Ginger Cabbage Salad

Nom. Step one: buy a big head of cabbage. I've only worked with green thus far in this recipe, but red would probably be lovely too, and pack an extra punch of antioxidants.

Stand the cabbage on its stem end, and cut it in half, and cut one half in half again. Unless you're feeding a whole lot of people, or have a small head of cabbage, one quarter will be enough: it feeds four with very generous portions.

You'll also need a couple carrots; two per quarter large head of cabbage.

You'll also need ginger. Ah, here's the rub! Ginger does not grow in these parts. Usually it hails from some place absurdly far away, like Thailand. I let myself have this cheat because a properly prepped hand of ginger will last you months if not years, and doesn't weigh much.

Take your hand of ginger, and cut it up into knobs of an inch or two each. Peel all the knobs (you can peel the ginger as best you can before cutting if that seems easier), then placed the knobs on a tray, and slide the tray into the freezer for a few hours. Once the knobs are frozen solid, put them in a freezer-safe, air-tight container, and put the container back into the freezer. You can easily grate frozen ginger.

So, you've got a quarter-head of cabbage, two carrots, and some peeled ginger. Cut the core out of the cabbage, and then slice it as thinly as you can (the rest of the cabbage, not the core). Put the cabbage in a big bowl, and then consider your carrots.

I like to use a vegetable peel to produce long, very thin pieces of carrot that easily mingle throughout the cabbage so you get some in every bite. Yes, peeling a carrot down to nothing is rather tedious. If you'd rather slice them thin, or julienne them, or grate them, be my guest.

Put the prepped carrots in the bowl, too, and then grate a knob of ginger into the bowl. I'm a huge ginger fan, and will happily use the whole one-inch knob, but if you prefer a subtle hint of ginger to complement the sweet carrot, and cabbage, use less.

Now add salt, and vinegar. I usually use red wine vinegar, but cider vinegar is good, too. Don't skimp on either one of these ingredients! The action of the salt and acid over time is what tenderizes the cabbage to more of an iceberg lettuce consistency. Drizzle on some good olive oil, and toss, toss, toss.

You can eat this salad immediately, but it'll only get better over the next day or two, so feel free to make it ahead, just an hour or two, or a whole day. It keeps well in the fridge, and is perfect for getting your veggie fix at lunch when you're in a hurry. It's delicious cold from the fridge, but nice at room temperature, too.

I give up on the fork within a few minutes and just use my fingers. I wanted to put a picture of the salad I was eating at the bottom, but I finished eating it before I took a picture of it...ah well! Next time!

Enjoy!
~em

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