CSA Veggie of the Week: Cabbage

Photo: Courtesy of Mountain View Farm

This week, my CSA column pays tribute to cabbage and its summertime-shredded version, coleslaw. The recipe, Spicy No-Mayo Coleslaw, comes from Mark Bittman. But we’ll get back to that in a minute. First, a bit about cabbage.

The crunchy, leafy veggie comes in something like three-dozen varieties: There’s green cabbage and red cabbage, Napa and Savoy. Cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and kohlrabi all fall into the Brassicaceae family. Even rutabegas and bok choy are distant cousins.

In her book Vegetables: A Biography (which I reviewed for our Mar-Apr 2012 issue), Evelyne Bloch-Dano spends an entire chapter on cabbage. It’s “a concentrate of affective memory, a substantial food for the body,” she writes, “but also a vegetable that speaks to us of a territory, a country, a past, a history, a vegetable that has

Spicy No-Mayo Coleslaw. Photo by Freya Bellin.

made its way into our everyday language.” For those of us who participate in CSAs, it’s a veggie that frequently makes it way into our weekly shares. 

Receiving a whole head of cabbage several weeks running requires some creative thinking to use it up. After trying several recipes, my husband perfected a version of kimchi that adds a crunchy, spicy side to most summer dinners. And this past March, The New York Times ran a great piece called “Cabbage Flexes its Muscles Three Ways” that included what’s still one of the best cabbage recipes we’ve tried to date, Pasta with Caramelized Cabbage, Anchovies, and Bread Crumbs. It’s just delicious.

Last week, when faced with a head of Napa cabbage, I opted to make Bittman’s Spicy No-Mayo Coleslaw. It was quick, easy, and great for people who dislike mayo (I don’t fall into that group, but I know several who do). Don’t skimp on the jalapeno; the recipe just calls for one, but it gives the slaw a nice kick. We ate ours with some grilled halibut and sweet corn. Yum.

If you’re not into coleslaw, here are a few other ways to use up your cabbage:
Kimchi My Way, Mark Bittman/The New York Times (note, this link contains three recipes; scroll to the bottom to find this one)
Pasta with Caramelized Cabbage, Anchovies, and Bread Crumbs, The New York Times
Nachos with Cabbage, Beans, and Cilantro Sauce, Serious Eats
Corned Beef and Cabbage, Alton Brown/Food Network

Next week: Radishes. One can only sauté them or eat them on salad so many times. Some other suggestions coming your way.

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