Sunday, August 8, 2010

Use it or Lose it: Spicy Cabbage and Zucchini

I recently came across a little tiny magazine clipping among my semi-filed mountains of “recipes to try.” It was for a cabbage and zucchini dish with soy sauce, rice vinegar, hot chile sauce and sesame seeds. Upon reading it, I asked myself why one would put zucchini and cabbage together in such a dish. I didn’t see the advantage of combining those two vegetables.

Then, I found myself with two homeless zucchini and half a head of cabbage left in the refrigerator after the new box from the CSA had arrived, and I began to understand. Sometimes you’ve just got to use up what you have and make the best of it. (I also had half an onion on hand, but don’t we all.)

I often employ a simple stir-fry method of cooking to use up vegetables, but this dish is a little different. Instead of cooking the vegetables in a wok over high heat, stirring all the while, the cabbage is cooked in a lidded skillet in the flavorful liquid mixture of soy sauce, rice vinegar and hot sauce. This might just make this dish even easier than a stir fry. While it may not have that super-hot wok flavor, it’s still extremely tasty.

I used a whole tablespoon of Sriracha, the hot Thai chile sauce, which made the dish really quite spicy. We like it that way around here, but tone it down if you do not. You could also use another type of hot sauce, although I couldn’t tell you how well something more vinegary, like Tabasco sauce might perform. This recipe makes a rather large amount, so if you’re giving yourself heartburn with the first bite, it might be a long meal.

This is good as a side dish, since it really is just vegetables and sauces with no added protein, but I end up serving a lot of lighter meals in the summer, and was happy to serve a heaping helping as a main dish over rice mixed with green peas. This is really rather quick and easy to make, and the cabbage can be sliced in the food processor to save you some time and sweat in the kitchen. The flavors and textures are a winning combination, and the leftovers are at least as good as the freshly-made dish. What else could you want but all of the above to make you happy about your food…oh, yeah, and you’ll use up some of those great seasonal vegetables before they stink up your refrigerator.

Spicy Sesame Cabbage and ZucchiniAdapted from a recipe in Cooking Light magazine

Note: a full tablespoon of Sriracha will make this dish very spicy.

¼ cup sesame seeds
1 tablespoon peanut oil (or canola or other neutral-tasting oil)
½ cup thinly sliced onion
2 large cloves garlic
1 pound zucchini (about 2 medium), finely chopped
1 ½ pounds cabbage (about ½ medium head), thinly sliced
¼ cup rice vinegar
¼ cup soy sauce (I use reduced-sodium)
1 teaspoon -1 tablespoon Sriracha or other Asian chile sauce
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
1 tablespoon chopped mint leaves, optional

1. Place the sesame seeds in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Heat, shaking the pan or stirring often until just beginning to brown. This may take about 5 minutes, but watch the seeds carefully so they do not burn. Remove from the heat and set aside.

2. Heat the peanut oil in a large skillet that has a well-fitting lid over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook 3 minutes, stirring often.

3. Add the zucchini and garlic and cook 3-4 minutes or until the zucchini begins to get tender and slightly browned, stirring often.

4. Add the cabbage and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add the rice vinegar, soy sauce and Sriracha. Cover, and reduce heat to medium. Cook 10 minutes or until the cabbage is tender but not mushy, lifting the lid to stir occasionally.

5. Stir in the sesame oil and remove from the heat. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and mint leaves, if desired.

Makes about 5 main dish servings (with rice) or 6-8 side dish servings.

Other recipes like this one: Spaetzle with Cabbage, Bacon and Onions,Cabbage Slaw with Spicy Peanut Dressing, Sauteed Cabbage with Caraway and Cider Vinegar
One year ago: Zucchini Buttermilk Bread with Pecans

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