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spring cabbage salad

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Spring cabbage salad

Cabbage is such a disdained vegetable in Britain that even the name looks faintly repulsive. Or maybe that’s the reason: ‘thy name that is my enemy’… The treatment dished out to poor cabbage over the centuries probably didn’t help – boiled for ever until it smells horribly, mashed in with potatoes to conceal it (colcannon) or chopped roughly and smothered with gloopy mayo (coleslaw).

Now this might be a fact difficult to believe but cabbage appears to contain more vitamin C than oranges. It’s also rich in vitamin K and anti-oxidants. Eat more cabbage! Only the name is so off-putting…

But I have a solution: Sauerkraut*. Kimchi. Surkål. Choucroute. Tsukemono.  Sounds better? Cabbage by any other name would smell as foul? It won’t – and it will taste better too when very lightly fermented. So in this form cabbage definitely deserves a chance - the salad is just delishhh. Coleslaw – eat your heart out…

This recipe works best with darker green, loosely packed spring cabbage.

* Or ‘liberty cabbage’ as it used to be called in times when Germany was not the world’s most favourite nation

spring cabbage salad


INGREDIENTS

  • a small head of spring cabbage
  • a large clove of garlic
  • a small bunch of dill
  • a few sprigs of fresh mint, leaves stripped
  • runny honey
  • good quality white wine vinegar (white balsamic tastes the nicest)
  • olive or rapeseed oil
Preparing cabbage salad


METHOD

Shred the cabbage – it doesn’t need to be too fine. Put it in a large bowl and sprinkle generously with salt, layer by layer. Mix with your hand and press down in the bowl with a small upturned plate. Leave for 15 minutes. During that time the salt will work wonders on the cabbage – wilt it slightly, drain the moisture and enhance the flavour. It’s not the full monty sauerkraut – although the method is the same, the fermenting time is a fraction of what happens in big oak barrels or handsome stone pots.

In the meantime finely chop the garlic, the mint leaves and the dill.

Check if the cabbage has wilted – grab a handful and squeeze out the moisture. If some juice runs out, it’s ready. If a lot of juice runs you left it for too long – but it will still be nice. Squeeze it all handful by handful and transfer to the bowl you want to serve it in. Add the herbs and garlic, season generously with black pepper (no more salt!), drizzle with honey, sprinkle with at least two teaspoons of vinegar and a good glug of oil. Toss and mix thoroughly. Taste, and add more seasoning if necessary. It’s best left to stand for a good few minutes before serving.

This is an excellent accompaniment to barbecued meats, burgers or fish.

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