Thursday, January 7, 2010

Shattered Dreams

What do you do when the Pyrex bowl (age 12 years) of leftover Wheat Berry Salad with Roasted Vegetables and Maple Walnut Vinaigrette leaps out of the refrigerator, as if it was fleeing from something (probably the beets) and shatters on the floor, ruining your plans for lunch? Well, if you’re like me, you clean up the mess (carefully…have you ever seen how Pyrex shatters?), express gratitude to the people who gave you a Target gift card for Christmas (so you can replace the extremely useful bowl), and make something else for lunch. You could also mutter coarse language under your breath, but I’ll leave that part out.

I had a cute little red cabbage (actually, it’s really quite purple in color), lots of carrots, and apples. I thought green onions and dried cranberries might work with these, too. If nothing else, they’d probably make a pretty mixture. (Then again, anything would be prettier than that woeful slumping mass of wheat berries and glass shards.) I was on my way to slaw.
I know there was a cabbage slaw that I made a long time ago that had apples in it. I never made it again, but I think the apples were sliced, and didn’t match the shape of the shredded cabbage, and that was unappealing to me. This time I julienned the apple (actually about half a large one). I also sliced up some green onions, trying to make them of similar shape. I shredded the cabbage and carrot using a food processor (actually using the slicing blade on the cabbage, which I think gives better results). I decided there wasn’t much I could do about the shape of the cranberries, and just shrugged and tossed them in.

I don’t know where I got the idea to put apple jelly in the dressing. It just sort of popped in there, then wandered around with its hands in its pockets, whistling, as if it had always been there. Anyway, I really liked it. The homemade jelly I used is significantly more liquid than anything store-bought is likely to be, so I sort of guessed on the warming and liquefying step in the recipe below. My jelly also has a lot of cinnamon flavor to it, which came through in the slaw, but not overwhelmingly so. I really liked that, too. If your jelly isn’t kissed with cinnamon, but it sounds good to you, you might want to try adding a pinch (just a pinch) of ground cinnamon to your vinaigrette.

And so, crisis averted, lunch saved and lots of slaw left for supper, I was tempted to bound away victorious, my messy apron flapping in the wind. Then I remembered it was entirely my fault that the bowl got broken in the first place. I had to admit that I had placed it precariously in the over-full refrigerator. I was the villain before I was the hero. Appropriately contrite, I stored the leftover slaw in an unbreakable plastic bowl.

Red Cabbage Slaw with Apple and Cranberries Recipe

3 cups shredded or finely sliced cabbage (about 8-10 ounces or 225-250 g)
1 cup shredded carrot (about 3 ounces or 75 g)
½ large apple, cut into julienne strips
4 green onions (scallions) finely sliced diagonally
½ cup (about 2 ounces or 50 g) sweetened dried cranberries, such as craisins
2 tablespoons (30 ml) apple jelly
2 tablespoons (30 ml) cider vinegar
2 tablespoons (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon (1 ml) salt
1/8 teaspoon (0.5 ml) cayenne pepper

1. Combine the cabbage, carrot, apple, green onions and dried cranberries in a bowl that is large enough to allow for mixing the ingredients.

2. Gently heat and stir the apple jelly in the microwave or on the stove until it becomes a pourable liquid.

3. Combine the liquefied jelly, cider vinegar, olive oil, salt and cayenne pepper in a small bowl and whisk until well combined. Alternatively, combine these ingredients in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake vigorously until well combined.

4. Pour the jelly mixture over the cabbage mixture and mix well until the slaw is well coated with the vinaigrette.

Makes 6-8 side dish servings and can be refrigerated for several days, although the slaw may eventually become somewhat soggy and the red color from the cabbage is likely to run onto the rest of the slaw.

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