Cabbage is my go-to winter green; it invites me to eat local on a blizzard-like New England day like today, and there are many ways to prepare it and benefit from its nutritional profile (it is high in fiber, vitamin C, and potassium, among other nutrients) and antioxidant and anticancer properties. I fill a crock with it and ferment it into sauerkraut (look for upcoming posts with fermentation recipes from my forthcoming book, The Cultured Kitchen: Putting Fermented Foods at the Center of the Plate, which will be published by Rizzoli in fall 2014), make a hearty winter slaw with it, dress it and serve it as salad, and cook it in a variety of styles. Here I thinly slice it and sauté it with Indian spices, coconut, and urad dhal, a tiny lentil most known for its place in the eponymous dish but here fried to give the dish an element of crunch.
1 small head green cabbage (about 1 pound), thinly sliced (about 4 cups sliced)
2 tablespoons unrefined virgin coconut oil
Large pinch of asafetida
2 dried red chiles
2 teaspoons urad dahl
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
¼ cup unsweetened desiccated coconut
¼ teaspoon ground cayenne
¼ teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the asafetida and let it sizzle for 10 seconds. Add the red chiles, urad dhal, and mustard seeds and cook until the urad dahl starts to darken in color (watch it carefully, as it can burn easily) and the mustard seeds start to pop, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the coconut and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute, until lightly browned. Stir in the cayenne. Add the cabbage and cook, stirring, for 3 to 5 minutes, until softened but still al dente. Stir in the salt and lemon juice. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt and lemon juice if needed. Serve immediately.
Leda Scheintaub’s latest work is The Sage and the Cook: Two Generations of Gluten and Dairy Free Cooking, an e-book series in collaboration with whole foods pioneer Rebecca Wood. The first book in the series is Soups and Stews, available from Amazon for $2.99. She is also the coauthor (with Denise Mari) of the forthcoming Organic Avenue; coauthor (with Carol Alt) of Easy, Sexy Raw; the recipe developer for The Ciao Bella Book of Gelato and Sorbetto; and author of Chipotle: Smoky Hot Recipes for All Occasions. She is currently at work on The Cultured Kitchen: Putting Fermented Foods at the Center of the Plate, to be published by Rizzoli in fall 2014. She has been a freelance writer, editor, and recipe tester for the past twelve years and lives with her husband in southern Vermont, where you’ll often find her at the Brattleboro Area Farmers’ Market.