The cookbook lover in me has been more than thrilled at the selections coming out of publishing lately. Truly unique and useful tomes by cooking pros that will stand the test of time — books that I’ll actually cook from with dependable recipes that don’t need tweaks to correct flavor imbalances or, worse, outright repairs.
Notably, Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi, and Roots by Diane Morgan. Both are a gardener and vegetable lover’s dream.
But the book that has totally captured my cooking heart is Deborah Madison’s Vegetable Literacy. I’ve cooked extensively from this book, and it rarely makes it back to the bookshelf, finding a long-term space on my kitchen counter. Part vegetable reference, part cookbook, I enjoy flipping through it randomly, reading up on artichokes or kale while planning weekend meals. (For a thorough review of the book, see my other blog, leafandgrain.com.)
Ms. Madison is a well-known, highly respected authority on vegetarian cooking and, as it turns out, she’s no slouch in the garden. As we universally turn a critical eye on the disaster that has become our over-processed food system, we need more books like Vegetable Literacy to help guide us back to food. Real food.
And so, I’m happy to share today’s recipe for wilted red cabbage, a selection from Vegetable Literacy. It’s an older recipe that Ms. Madison altered slightly for the book, but one that shows off the best of her simple, no-fuss style: super flavorful vegetables lightly cooked and tossed with a liberal amount of fresh herbs and a brightening squeeze of lemon (merely wilted rather than cooked, this cabbage dish lands far more on the side of slaw than stew — the leaves remains fresh and crisp).
A satisfying main dish for veggie-loving folks like me, this wilted red cabbage also makes a spectacular side with its neon purple coloring flecked with green and white.
Wilted red cabbage with mint and feta
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium red onion quartered through the stem end and thinly sliced crosswise
- 1 garlic clove finely minced
- 4 cups packed very finely sliced red cabbage a scant pound
- Sea salt
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- Freshly ground pepper
- Crumbled goat feta plus whole mint leaves to finish
- Heat the oil in a large skillet or wok. When hot, add the onion, saute for several minutes to sear and soften. Add the garlic, then the cabbage, and season with 1 teaspoon salt. Immediately begin turning it in the pan. You don't want to fully cook it, just wilt it; two to three minutes should be plenty of time.
- Remove the pan from the heat, toss the cabbage with 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice, then taste and add more if sharpness is desired. Toss with the herbs. Season with more salt, if needed, and plenty of pepper. Transfer the cabbage to a platter, and shower with the crumbled goat feta. Finish with the extra mint leaves and serve.