The Cabbage that Saved Humanity

Okay, okay, so I don’t know for a fact that it was THIS cabbage, this red cabbage by the way, sitting on my counter, that saved humanity, but cabbage has kept people free of scurvy and other nasty diseases through long winters for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years.

Cabbage is easy to ferment, it stays relatively fresh for a long time and the outer leaves act as a wrapping that keeps the inside fresh longer.  I’ve read that you can bury cabbage in the ground for several months, dig it up, remove the outer leaves and the inside is edible.   I haven’t tried this but it certainly appeals to my occasional apocalyptic imaginings.

So whether it’s sauerkraut, kim chee, fried rice, or good ole cole slaw, cabbage continues to keep humans healthy!

I’ve always loved cole slaw, but a lower fat version I liked remained elusive.  I was pleased to discover this recipe in the USA Weekend magazine from the Sunday paper.  Go figure.

The first time I made it exactly as written… I know, I know, I was having an unusually compliant day.
The second time I just didn’t have everything so I’ll give you my adaptations, but I found the result to be delightfully crispy and refreshing both ways.

Colorful Coleslaw  USA Weekend, May 25-27, 2012 – Ellie Krieger

3 Tbsp. grainy mustard (2nd time I used 1 Tbsp seeded, ran out and added 1 more Tbsp dijon)
2 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp. cider vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/4 large head red cabbage  (I used less than this and added shredded broccoli stem – about 3 medium, peeled stalks)
2 lge carrots, shredded
1 medium fennel bulb, halved, cored and thinly sliced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced (I left out completely 2nd time)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves (I left out entirely and meant to add parsley… but I forgot)
1 Tbsp. poppy seeds
Whisk together wet ingredients
Shred veggies in a food processor if you have one, or chop them by hand to small size.

Ain’t it purdy?

Toss well to combine.

There’s little tiny seeds in there 🙂

Very tasty indeed.  So next time you eat cabbage be aware what this humble and sometimes maligned vegetable has done for our ancestors, and continues to do for us.  Cabbage rocks!

23 responses

  1. If you have an abundance of cabbage, here is another low fat recipe to try: I always make Asian cabbage salad, with a drizzle of grapeseed oil, a couple of splashes of rice vinegar, pinch of sugar, salt and black pepper to taste. To fancy it up, you can add slivered almonds and black sesame seeds. It’s my favorite, but now I’m going to have to try your version! Yum!

      • I’m all about simple, sometimes if my lunch isn’t ready in less than 5 minutes, I don’t get to eat it before my house turns into chaos and spontaneously combusts 😉

      • And children do run around as if their hair were on fire sometimes, don’t they? Often leading to adult steam coming out of the ears….

    • Please let us know how it goes. Apparently the outer leaves become rather blackened and so one must be committed to digging to the deeper layers of the matter. And after therapy is over…. eat the cabbage 🙂

  2. That looks delicious – perhaps this is what I want for my “it’s too hot to cook” dinner for tonight. I haven’t grown any myself, but I’m always delighted by the size and taste of the cabbages at the farmer’s market ever year, and I’m looking forward to fermenting some this fall too.

    • If the weather keeps it up we may have to start a “too hot to cook” page….. And I’m really interested in the fermenting bit. Hope you let us know how that goes!

  3. I love cabbages…currently growing savoy, early greens, reds, early jersey wakefields and hopefully the danish ballheads will come out of the stupor they were left in after they got trampled. Go Cabbage!

    • How can you not grow something called danish ballheads. I mean really. We’d love to see a photo of these colorfully named wonders!

  4. Thanks for the reminder! My seventh (of eight total – see episode 8 of Late Bloomer) red cabbage needs to be harvested today. I don’t have all these ingredients, but I have the ones that count, so I’ll let you know how it is.

    • I hope you enjoy it! And good for you for getting 8 red cabbages this year! I have not had much luck with the broccoli / cauliflower / cabbage family.

  5. I never liked coleslaw as a kid because of the mayonnaise-y dressing, but as I grew up I learned that you can dress your slaw in other yummier and healthier things instead. This definitely sounds like a slaw I would enjoy! 🙂

    • I think a lot of kids don’t like cole slaw for that reason. I’ve always been a fan – but also have always wondered about the safety of various mayonnaise based ‘salads’ that are staple outdoor in the hot sun picnic foods! Hope you enjoy this slaw – I’d love to hear your fave recipe!

  6. Pingback: Cinnamon Cabbage Stir Fry | my sister's pantry

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