I love my winter CSA box.
Yep I do. I might even love it more than its summer counterpart. Something about the delivery of a big box of leafy greens, cruciferous veggies, roots, apples, and citrus that’s fresh and in-season and healthy and ALIVE is incredibly satisfying.
Especially when it shows up unexpectedly at noon on a Tuesday while I’m scouring the pantry for edibles (and loathing the weather for making grocery shopping sans-car such an ordeal). Yes! Score! I can put down the box of easy-mac! There’s REAL FOOD again.
The downside to the winter CSA? It’s a lot of the same things every week. Onions, carrots, lettuce, greens…those I can handle. Oranges? Oh man, I can’t get enough. But somehow every year about this same time I look in the fridge and discover that we have a whole shelf of cabbages. This is OK. Cabbages last forever. But…cabbages? What to COOK with them?
So I get to work. I have an amazing Thai-style sesame soba noodle salad
recipe which I got from my friend Alanna – we eat that a lot. I steam big wedges of cabbage up with salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, and celery seed – delicious.
But still the cabbages keep coming. They are incessant. I am tiring of coleslaw.
But deep in the recesses of my mind lurks this gem of a recipe. It is so simple. A side dish, really, nothing to be excited about. But once it’s simmering on the stove and the house is filled with the smells of onions, apples, bay, clove, and cider vinegar I always wonder why it takes me so long to remember to make it.
The recipe is originally designed for red cabbage, but is just as tasty (though possibly less pretty) with green. This time I actually chopped up some napa cabbage to add in, which gave it an unexpected kick that I quite liked.
1 large head of cabbage, roughly sliced (enough to loosely fill your stock pot)
2 tart apples, cored and diced (I used granny smith here)
1 large onion, peeled and sliced into rounds or strips (red or yellow)
3 Tbsp butter
1-2 c water
1 c apple cider vinegar
1/3 c evaporated cane juice (sugar)
salt, to taste
wrap the following in a tea ball or a twist of cheesecloth for easy removal after cooking:
1 bay leaf
7 black peppercorns, lightly crushed
5 whole cloves
Melt 3 Tbsp of butter in a large stock pot with a lid over medium heat. Put all the cabbage into the pot. Add the apples and onions, and about a cup of water. Let this wilt down over medium heat, tossing occasionally, until the cabbage has released much of its moisture and has decreased to about half its volume (this doesn’t take too long). Pour in 1 c apple cider vinegar, as well as the sugar and the spice ball and allow everything to simmer until the apples and cabbage are soft (at least a half hour). Add more water if the mixture starts to dry out.
Season with salt, and serve warm.
This cabbage is an excellent side dish to some beer-poached or fried bratwurst, a thin breaded cutlet of pork or chicken, some fried potatoes with dill (or some leek and potato pancakes with a side of sour cream), or pretty much anything German-inspired. It is also pretty darn good served up in a bowl on its own (as I have done more than a few times).