Friday, September 30, 2011

Cabbage and Walnuts

It’s been a while since I could really get back in to my messy kitchen adventures. My new kitchen has taken some getting used to, and I seem to have moved into it (and the rest of the house) in the slowest, most unorganized fashion possible. Well, that seems to all be behind me at last and I’m finally back trying new things in the kitchen, messing up my apron with all kinds of stuff. This time it was a warm walnut vinaigrette with butter and mustard that I poured over some wilted Savoy cabbage.

I’d like to tell you that I used Savoy cabbage because the leaves are tender, easy to slice, and just need a few minutes in the pan to get nicely wilted, allowing for a fast and pretty easy side dish. Sure, all of those things are true, and I’d like to appear all selective and brainy about my vegetable dishes. It’s just that I used this particular kind of cabbage because that’s what I happened to have. (That’s kind of how things go when you subscribe to a CSA that has great fall vegetables.) It really has nothing to do with me that it was a great tool for the job.

The idea for this dish came from Bon Appetit magazine (the October 2011 issue), which had a recipe for Brussels sprouts with a vinaigrette like this one. I knew I wasn’t going to go out looking for Brussels sprouts when I probably had cabbage waiting in a box for me, and the Savoy turned out to be just the right thing. I think a napa cabbage might work similarly, since it also has more tender leaves, just a bit firmer than romaine lettuce. I certainly wouldn’t turn my nose up at a regular green cabbage, but might cook it a bit longer to get a similar wilted texture, or select the floppier leaves and save the crunchier ones and the thicker ribs for slaw.

I happened to have a particularly fresh and sweet Savoy cabbage, and it went wonderfully with the delicate walnut flavor in the vinaigrette. The dish also gets plenty of tanginess from the vinegar and mustard. I used a homemade Moscato wine vinegar (yeah, I’m into that kind of thing), but you could use whatever white wine or champagne vinegar you like, or probably even cider vinegar.

I’ve made a lot of slaws to go with all kinds of meals, but wilting the cabbage and drenching it in a warm, buttery, nutty dressing makes a more comforting dish as the nights get colder. And since this one is pretty quick, you can easily serve it alongside dishes that require more of your time and attention. I served it with pork chops, applesauce, and roasted vegetables and it played along very nicely, making a hearty, flavorful fall supper.

Wilted Savoy Cabbage with Warm Walnut-Butter Vinaigrette
Based on a recipe in Bon Appetit magazine

2 tablespoons butter, divided
2 tablespoons walnut oil
1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon or whole grain mustard
½ large head Savoy cabbage, thinly sliced, about 6 cups
½ teaspoon coarse (kosher) salt
½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1. In a small skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Add the walnut oil and walnuts. Cook and stir until the walnuts are lightly browned and fragrant. This will take 3-4 minutes, but watch carefully. You do not want the walnuts to burn.

2. Reduce the heat to low. Stir in the vinegar and mustard until smooth. Be particularly careful when adding the vinegar. It may spatter and steam. Keep warm.

3. In a large skillet, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Add the cabbage and salt. Cook and stir until just wilted, about 3 minutes.

4. Pour the warm vinaigrette over the wilted cabbage and stir to coat evenly. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon zest. Serve warm.

Makes 4-6 side dish servings.

Other recipes like this one: Sauteed Cabbage with Caraway and Cider Vinegar, Spaetzle with Cabbage, Bacon and Onions (one of my most popular posts)

One year ago: Winter Squash and Onion Curry with Yogurt Sauce

Two years ago: Tomato and Beef Stir Fry

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