This country throws away a TON of food every day. Actually more like 222 tons every year. I have been working in hotels and restaurants for many years and saw it every single day. It’s sickening. Especially since there are sooo many people that go hungry every day. There are many great programs where people can make use of what restaurants discard, but not all companies are doing it. Some may think it’s a cost factor (although food pickups are usually free), others wants to cover their behind from possible lawsuits because someone MAY get sick of the food they ate. But there are waivers for that, no? It just irks me to see still edible food in the garbage while we have trouble feeding the needy.
Anyways, one teensy, tiny step to throw away less edibles is to make the most out of everything you buy. This past weekend we were grilling some delicious pork & herbes de provence sausages and wanted some slaw to go with it, but one that was tastier and healthier than your regular old coleslaw. So instead of buying some stale premix, we just got a small head of purple cabbage because the rest of the ingredients was already in our fridge: carrots, fresh Italian parsley and the remnants of some broccoli.
Broccoli stems are perfectly edible, so don’t throw them away! They smell and taste like kohlrabi and add a really nice fresh, light flavor to your otherwise boring slaw. And, they’re pretty much free since they come with the broccoli you were already paying for.
Purple cabbage is available year round but is more of a fall and winter vegetable, so definitely on my “seasonal foods” radar these days. Growing up in Germany, we ate a lot of purple cabbage, especially over the holidays. A classic Christmas Eve dinner was roasted duck with potato dumplings and braised red cabbage with apples. I ate mostly the duck and the dumplings… Braised cabbage is not my favorite, and now I also know that the raw cabbage provides way more vitamins and antioxidants. Cooking it reduces the potency of its bioflavonoids (=plant pigments that function as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents). Red cabbage is especially high in Vitamin K and Vitamin C – a great way to boost your immune system for the upcoming cold & flu season.
Back to the broccoli stems though. Because they were the money saver in this dish. The stems actually have similar amounts of vitamins and minerals as the florets. You can eat the leaves too: they are excellent sources of nutrients. They are actually higher in beta-carotene than the florets and can contain phytonutrients that aren’t found in the stems and florets. So keep those too although the store bought broccoli usually doesn’t have many left.
Here’s what you need:
makes about 4-6 servings as a side dish
3-4 large broccoli stems
1/4 head purple cabbage, (about 2 cups) chopped
4-5 sprigs of fresh Italian parsley, chopped
2 tbsp (organic) mayo
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar (or whichever vinegar you love most; balsamic not recommended for this recipe)
2 tbsp dried cranberries
2 tbsp walnuts, chopped
salt & pepper to taste
Cut off the woodsy ends of the broccoli stems and peel the stems with a vegetable peeler. The whitish outer skin tastes bitter and is tougher as well.
Grate the broccoli stems with a coarse grater. It should yield about 2 cups, but don’t worry if it’s a little more or less.
Cut the cabbage head in half and then in quarters. Cut out the white core and chop the cabbage into thin strips:
If your cabbage was large, you can cut the strips down a little shorter if you want. Makes for easier eating
Add the cabbage and broccoli to a bowl, and then add the mayo, vinegar, parsley, cranberries and walnuts.
Mix everything gently and season with salt & pepper.
If you don’t like using mayo, you could substitute with plain (whole milk) yogurt or sour cream. Go easy on the vinegar if you use sour cream or greek yogurt, as they already have a tangy flavor. Add lemon or lime juice for some extra zing if you want.
The sweetness of the cranberries are really yummy in this crunchy salad and the walnuts add healthy fats.
Parsley is a totally underrated herb. Grow some in a small pot in your kitchen or your backyard. I love parsley – I add that stuff in almost everything! Why is it so great? Parsley’s volatile oils have been shown to inhibit tumor formation in animal studies. It can help neutralize particular types of carcinogens (like the benzopyrenes that are part of cigarette smoke and charcoal grill smoke). The flavonoids in parsley have been shown to help prevent oxygen-based damage to cells. In addition, extracts from parsley have been used in animal studies to help increase the antioxidant capacity of the blood. In addition to its volatile oils and flavonoids, parsley is an excellent source of vitamin C and a good source of vitamin A (source: http://www.whfoods.com/).
This salad is totally flexible for additional ingredients too. Make it yours! My husband likes to add shredded carrots. I add some chopped kale sometimes. You can even add some grilled chicken if you want a protein added. That would make a great lunch!
Or you can just have it as is – as a side with your brats or lamb burgers. Or maybe grilled shrimp? Mmmmh – the possibilities!