Last week I finally took the time to write out a meal plan for the week and search for recipes that called for some of the same ingredients, so we wouldn’t end up with a bunch of half used items at the end of the week. Does that happen to you too? You either plan nothing and end up buying random stuff, start cooking and realize you need to go back to the store for 3 ingredients you don’t have on hand. Or, you plan great recipes for the week but end up spending way more money on all the extra items you need and then the half used bag of potatoes rots away. Not this time! Oh no.
This time almost everything we bought was used in 2 recipes or more. Almost – 2 of the meals I had planned called for savoy cabbage, but the one my husband brought back from the store was so small, it was only enough for 1 dinner. I was surprised to see the one he bought looked so poor, too. “But they’re in season now – they should be super fresh and plentiful!” Upon closer look I noticed that our cabbage must have been on the store shelf for a while already: most of its outer leaves were torn off and those that were left were limp and pale. Why did this sit in the store so long? It’s super tasty and affordable!
But then I knew: we live in South Florida and not enough people are familiar with this type of cabbage and how to cook cabbage in general (aside from using it for coleslaw). Nobody in our neighborhood knows what to do with Savoy cabbage! Even my husband didn’t know about it the first time we cooked it.
Savoy cabbage is not your usual (bland, green) cabbage. It has a much milder, nuttier flavor with a little sweetness. This makes it a great partner for salty, briny add-ons like ham, bacon or pancetta. Cabbage is a nutrient dense, low-calorie food that is packed with cancer-fighting antioxidants, vitamin C, B6, biotin, and many important minerals such as potassium, manganese, calcium, and magnesium.
The cancer fighting potency of cabbage is due to its phenomenal content of glucosinolates. These compounds increase antioxidant defense mechanisms, and improve your body’s ability to detoxify and eliminate harmful chemicals.
Avoid buying pre-cut/shredded cabbage as it looses its vitamin C content once cut. Keep it cold and cabbage will last up to a month. Savoy cabbage however only keeps for about a week.
So since ours wasn’t the freshest anymore, we cooked it that night. Along with some crispy bacon, onions, parsley and served with mashed potatoes.
Here’s what you need for 4 servings:
1 small or 1/2 large head of Savoy cabbage, the core and outermost leaves removed, and chopped in 1/4″ slices
1 small onion (or 2 shallots), diced
5-6 strips of bacon, chopped
3-5 sprigs of Italian parsley, chopped
Kosher salt & fresh pepper to taste
optional: 1/3 cup heavy cream OR: 4 eggs
Heat a wide, deep saucepan to medium-high heat and add the chopped bacon
Cook the bacon until crisped and remove; keep about 1 tbsp of the bacon fat in the pan
Cook the onions on the bacon fat until transparent, about 2-3 minutes
Reduce the heat to low-medium, add the chopped cabbage and stir up to combine with the onions
(Optional step: add the heavy cream and let it cook with the cabbage to reduce a little)
Cook covered for 3-4 minutes, stir, and cook for another 3-4 minutes
Add the bacon back in along with the parsley and stir to combine.
Serve with your favorite mashed potatoes.
(Optional: top the cabbage with a poached or sunny side up egg)
Tip: be sure not to overcook the cabbage (or any vegetables). The longer you cook them, the more nutrients they will lose. You can see that when they lose their vibrant colors and you end up with a mush of literally cooked-to-death veggies. A lot of vitamins and minerals are also water soluble, which means if you boil the veggies in water and then throw out the water, you’re also throwing out a lot of the vitamins and minerals. Steaming and roasting are best. If you have to boil them, let it be in soup so you keep the liquid. And keep the skin on your potatoes during boiling as well.
Cabbage is in season from October through February, but you can get it all year round in most stores. Buying produce that’s in season for where you live, means you’re buying food that’s fresher, hasn’t traveled as far (ever noticed how much fruit comes from Chile, Argentina, or South Africa??), and is therefore more nutrient dense and tastier. And it’s probably also cheaper so you even save a buck or two.