I am currently enrolled in the Chef's Training Program at the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts, a whole foods based, health-supportive culinary school in NYC. The first week was heavy on the knife skills, which are the foundation of being a well versed cook, regardless of where your skills may take you. To practice at home, I leaned on one of my favorite winter staples, sweet and sour cabbage.
This dish is by no means fancy, but it is a great winter standby when the vegetable selection is slim. Sweet and sour cabbage is a nice fit in a grain bowl or, with meat for a more traditional way of serving. There are many versions of sweet and sour cabbage that rely on sugar to achieve the sweet balance. Here, good quality honey is my sweetener of choice as well as a hearty handful of currants.
Cabbage is a member of the cruciferous family, which also includes kale, broccoli, and brussels sprouts. This family of vegetables is extremely powerful and nutrient dense. Often times cabbage, like brussels sprouts, is considered "stinky" and has a bad rap due to the potential to smell quite foul. This is due to the sulfurous aroma that the vegetable emits when overcooked. Yet, when cooked properly or fermented into a sauerkraut, cabbage is delicious and offers a myriad of nutritional benefits.
Cabbage contains glucosinolates, a group of substances which are anticancer. This vegetable is a great source of Vitamin C and Vitamin A. Purple cabbage has the added benefit of containing anthocyanin, the polyphenol that contributes to its purple hue and also adds antioxidant and ant-inflammatory benefits.
Large vegetables, like cabbage, can by intimidating to break down but, if done in small manageable steps, the process will be seamless.
For a head of cabbage:
- Remove the outside leaves, rinse, and pat dry.
- Place your cabbage on the cutting board with the core on the board. Using a chef knife, cut the cabbage in half vertically. To cut into quarters, place the cabbage on the cutting board, core side down, cut vertically again and through the core so you have four wedges.
- To remove the core of each quarter, use your knife and make an angled cut into the cabbage core to remove it. Repeat with the other wedges.
- In order to create shreds, determine if you want long or short shreds. For longer pieces, slice the cabbage along the vertical edge. For shorter pieces, slice along the horizontal edge. Aim for pieces that are 1/4 inch thick.
Sweet and Sour Cabbage
- 1 head purple cabbage, shredded. (See tips above)
- 1 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil
- 1/2 cup white onion, minced
- 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 tbsps honey
- Sea salt
- 1/4 cup dried currants
- microgreens or parsley for garnish.
- In a dutch oven or large pot, warm olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and sauté for four minutes.
- Add cabbage, vinegars, honey, and a generous pinch of salt. Stir, cover pot, and let cook down for ten minutes.
- Toss in currants, stir, and continue to cook, partially covered, for another five minutes or until cabbage is tender and vinegar resembles a glaze. Be mindful to avoid overcooking the cabbage, which will lead to the sulfurous smell and loss of nutrients.