On my last trip to the farmer’s market I noticed that carrots got smaller which is a sure sign of the season changing and the next bundle of vegetables to come.
On the east coast we’ve already had a few cool days. Cruciferous cabbage vegetables will soon appear on the vegetable stand – start to look for white cabbage, red cabbage, Savoy cabbage, kale, mustard greens, bok choy, kohlrabi, cauliflower, broccoli and so on. These vegetables will be plentiful seeming like seasonal flowers with their many leafy layers. The first batch of local Brussels sprouts will hit the market in about 10 days – can’t wait for it.
(Napa cabbage "loaves")
There is one cabbage that has particularly caught my attention – Napa cabbage. The first impression will remind you of a big bushy head of romaine but once picked up the weightiness will most likely surprise you. Napa cabbage is a handsome looking vegetable with thick white veins that end in thin branches running through the leaves. The lightly curled edged leaves are tender and have an addictive crunchy texture. Eaten simply raw one gets that sweet cabbage flavor which pairs very nicely with a spicy tomato-based sauce. Ideally your tomato sauce should have a thick consistency so that it coats the chopped leaves well. Following is one of my favorite raw Napa cabbage preparations.
(open-face lasagne with napa cabbage, bok choy and a spicy tomato sauce)
(fall vegetable casserole)
Spicy Tomato Dressing
(recipe yields four portions)
2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves
1 bay leaf
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon hot sauce such as Sriracha
1 cup canned plum tomatoes
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
sea salt, to taste
1. Chop oregano and bay leaf finely.
2. In a mixing bowl crush tomatoes with a table fork.
3. Add other ingredients to the crushed tomatoes
1 Napa cabbage
Spicy Tomato Dressing (above recipe)
1. Cut ½-inch of Napa cabbage bottom then peel off outer leaves and discard.
2. Cut Napa cabbage lengthwise into six wedges then cut across into mouth- sized squares.
3. Rinse Napa cabbage with water then dry in a salad spinner or on a kitchen paper towel.
4. In a bowl toss Napa cabbage and spicy tomato dressing.
Napa cabbage has a few healthy surprises
- A generous quantity of vitamin K and C
- a cholesterol lowering effect
- cancer preventing properties
…more delicious serving suggestions to make Napa cabbage shine
Napa cabbage steamed for a few minutes works well with solid flavors such as braised pork for or grilled salmon.
Stir-frying in a bit vegetable oil such as grape seed or canola works well for a sautéed version of Napa cabbage. I recommend adding some crushed peanuts, for crunch in addition to flavor and a touch of unsweetened coconut milk for richness and roughly chopped cilantro will make the flavors jump.
Cut Napa cabbage into large wedges and sprinkle with olive oil. Grill the leaves on all sides. Serve on a large platter sprinkled with some thinly shaved hard cheese such as sharp Manchego from Spain. Chopped sun-dried tomatoes add tasty colorful speckles to the dish.
Mac & Cheese
I have been working on a cheese book project for a while now and developed a recipe with chopped Napa cabbage and cherry tomatoes – to be revealed in the book!