Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Getting A Bad Rap

I didn't think I really liked cabbage. Maybe it was a childhood influenced by Cabbage Patch Kids. I mean, what about a baby growing in a cabbage patch is appealing to my taste buds? Then there was the goopy, mushy coleslaw that comes as a side with fried chicken or hamburgers, stuffed into a translucent plastic cup on the side of the plate, the limp cabbage attempting to stand up for the vegetable team but crowded out by a plethora of fries and weighed down by an abundance of mayonnaise.

I admit the Napa version of cabbage does its part in making a solid potsticker. But most of the time I envisioned cabbage, particularly cooked cabbage, as a smelly, dark, tasteless dish doled out to poor orphans or homeless people.

It turns out that cabbage had been getting a bad rap all this time.

I don't know what changed my mind, but two things happened within a 24 hour period. I spotted a recipe for cabbage salad that was reminiscent of the flavors of guacamole, and I ate some cabbage salad by default because it was the only vegetable served at a dinner party. The salad I spotted looked so simple, with mostly ingredients that I already had in my house (other than the cabbage): cilantro, scallions, chilies, mayonnaise, lime juice. The salad I ate was light and crisp, dressed only with olive oil and salt, and when I ran back for more it had been cleaned out. Suddenly cabbage was no longer a bitter, ugly vegetable associated with patches of babies, no longer a limp accessory.

And yes, it's another salad, that's two in a row from me, so where's the dessert girl you know and love? There's no doubt she'll be back, but in the mean time, continue to follow your resolutions.

Winter Cabbage Salad
Yield: 4 servings

Half a head of green cabbage
Handful of cilantro leaves, washed, dried, and chopped
4 - 5 green onions
1 serrano chili
4 tablespoons light mayonnaise
Juice of 1/2 to 1 lime
salt to taste

Slice the cabbage. Slice the white part of the green onions and discard the rest. Slice the chili in half lengthwise and remove the ribs and seeds. Chop the chili. In a small food processor, blend together the mayo, lime juice, half the chopped chili, and half the cilantro. Toss together the cabbage, green onions, remaining chili and cilantro. Add mayonnaise dressing to the salad and combine well. Salt to taste.

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