Roast cabbage and squash chunks with simple tahini dressing

I was reading an article in Wicked Leeks, the newsletter from Riverford Organics (if you’ve never seen it, it’s a really good, informative read – you can find out more here) this morning about how the warm, wet autumn has led to a bumper crop of brassicas like cabbage and kale. And the cabbages are particularly big, so more for your money – bargain! And bargains are what we need right now! Continue reading “Roast cabbage and squash chunks with simple tahini dressing”

Comforting cabbage

There’s no getting away from it, winter is looming. The cold, frosty mornings and all-too-early dark evenings say it all. At this time, I’m rummaging in the cupboard for my woolly hat and gloves, and dipping into my old cookbooks to hunt out my favourite comfort recipes to warm me up.

What constitutes ‘comfort food’ is different for everyone, but generally they’re warming, satisfying, and, if not careful, can be lethal for the waistline! Now that I eat plant based and dairy and gluten free, I still have my comfort foods – thick sumptuous stews, heart warming soups and gorgeous puddings – they’re just slightly different.

Nutritionally, cabbage is an amazing vegetable, packed full of nutrients and phytonutrients that have a range of beneficial properties. It’s part of the cruciferous family, a group of veg that you may well have heard me go on about (it includes cauliflower and broccoli), that’s anti-inflammatory and full of antioxidants and specific phytonutrients that have anti-cancer properties. Plus, cabbage is really good for the stomach and gut lining, keep unfriendly bacteria under control.

Red cabbage is even better than green. Its deep rich colour contains even more antioxidants and polyphenols, a specific group of phyto-nutrients as well as loads more vitamin C, B6 and manganese. Mix that with the probiotic properties of cooked apple (see apple cake posting for more info) and the super sulphur properties of onion, you’ve got a pretty nutritionally packed dish that also tastes gorgeous! So why not try this one chilly evening, and curl up in front of the fire with a dish that will give your taste buds and your body a big healing hug!

Slow braised red cabbage
1 medium sized red cabbage shredded
1 large red onion, sliced
1 large cooking apple, sliced
2 teaspoons dried mix herbs
couple handfuls raisins
salt and pepper
50ml vegetable stoc
Dairy free spread or olive oil
Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC and grease an oven proof dish that has a lid (I use my old faithful Le Creuset dish). Place a layer of sliced onions on the bottom, then cabbage, then apple. Sprinkle with the herbs and raisins and season with salt and pepper. Repeat these layers one or two more times (depending on how much you have, how big your pot is etc). Add the vegetable stock, cover with the lid and place in the oven for an hour. Remove and check there’s enough fluid so it doesn’t burn, then return to the oven for another half to one hour until everything is super soft and the flavours are concentrated. Remove from the oven and leave to stand for up to 30 minutes with the lid on before serving. Enjoy!

Tasty cabbage – Indian style

One of the wonderful things about living in Southern India was the food. Dishes are simply classified into veg or non-veg, and the choice of veg dishes was vast! Using this classification, veg excludes egg but does include dairy, so eating dairy free was still a challenge. I often grilled a poor waiter about the potential dairy content of a dish, only to find it laden with paneer or ghee. I had to become very un-British and be very specific with my food order!

Eating at friends houses was much simpler,  once they knew what to avoid. And many of my Indian friends just loved to feed me, which was such a joy! They all had cooks who created these amazingly simple yet delicious dishes – 2 or 3 different ones for a light lunch! It was often a dhal, bean based curry and a dry vegetable dish (sauce, or gravy as they call it, is definitely more of a ‘Briti
sher’ requirement!). And I fell in love with stuffed parathas and freshly made chapattis; I still make heavy-handed attempts to make my own at home.

One of my favourite simple dry vegetable dishes is called poriyal. It’s basically a cooked vegetable – green bean, cabbage, carrot or a mixture of different ones – garnished with a tasty tempering and grated coconut. It’s ever so simple to make and is gorgeously tasty.

Cabbage has been a dominant feature of my veg box just recently; cabbage poriyal makes a tasty change to plain simply steamed cabbage or one of my many versions of coleslaw!

One of the wonderful cruciferous family, cabbage is amazingly good for you, particularly if it’s steamed rather than boiled to death as per school dinners! It’s packed full of phytonutrients that help protect against cancer, loads of fibre which will help reduce cholesterol levels and vitamin C, a natural antioxidant. On top of that, it has a whole variety of B vitamins, potassium and manganese. So it is definitely good to eat your greens!

Tempering is a method used in Indian cooking in which the whole spices are heated in oil (or ghee) until the aromas are released then poured on top of the dish prior to serving. Briefly cooking at a high heat releases the essential oils in the spices, and therefore their delicious flavour. If you want to be low or no fat, omit the oil and just heat in a non-stick pan – once the mustard seeds start popping, add the other spices and turn off the heat whilst still stirring. This stops the spices singeing but still releases their flavour. Give this a go and see what you think – you won’t find it in your local curry house, that’s for sure!

Cabbage poriyal
1 tablespoon oil
1 medium sized cabbage, finely chopped
2 tablespoons grated coconut, fresh or frozen (defrosted)
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon urad dahl (split lentils)
pinch asafedtida
ginger chilli paste
1 red chilli, chopped
5 curry leaves
fresh coriander
Steam the cabbage until just done. When it’s nearly ready, heat the oil in a pan and toast the mustard seeds. Once they start to splutter, add the grad dahl, turmeric and asafoetida. Once you can smell the gorgeous aromas, add the chilli and curry leaves, stir briefly then turn off the heat. Continue to stir for a moment then mix the tempering into the cabbage along with the coconut and ginger chilli paste (if you so desire). Season with a tiny sprinkle of salt if you need to, garnish with fresh coriander and serve alongside another veg dish such as a dahl and freshly cooked chapattis. Enjoy!