The last time I worked with the Bay Ridge Food Coop’s distribution, I was stocking the produce and made an off comment that I didn’t like cabbage. I was working with two other members and both their heads turned. “How can you not like cabbage?…It’s so healthy?…I love cabbage…I guess you’re not very Eastern European” was some of the feedback that shot back. I sheepishly told them I was 100% Polish but quickly jumped to defend myself claiming my family had a tendency to cook things to mush, especially green stuff like cabbage and it just wasn’t appealing. “Well, that doesn’t mean you have to cook it that way”, a member said. And I immediately knew she was absolutely right. So that’s how I got shamed into buying a head of cabbage.
I disliked a lot of things through my childhood and early adulthood, Brussels sprouts and fish come immediately to mind, because I didn’t like it the way it had been prepared. It was such a stupid reasoning. I hate creamed corn, but love corn on the cob, off the cob, grilled, boiled, in stews, soups, chilies, breads, baked goods–practically any way BUT creamed. If I were to have tried cream corn once, hated it and dismissed the entire vegetable, imagine how many other different types of corn foods I would miss out on. After first cooking fish myself, I learned that I loved flaky fish but should stay away from oily fishes like salmon. And I eventually came around to my love for Brussels sprouts. Why should cabbage be so daunting.
In reality cabbage is simply a
mutated overgrown Brussels sprout. Or a Brussels sprout is a mini cabbage. Look at it how you like but they’re nearly the same. So, since my first experiment cooking with Brussels Sprouts was to roast them, I decided it would work just as well with cabbage or better. I needed to be a lot more gentle with the cabbage. Chopping it up and tossing it in a bag with oil and spices would be a mess. Instead, I sliced it, then brushed it with a oil spice mix. It takes a bit of patience to keep the cabbage leaves together, brush, turn and brush again, but well worth it. I can’t say I like the cabbage better than my beloved sprouts, but the results were pretty amazing. A light sweetness came out in the leaves, they were tender and crisp all at the same time. I can’t guarantee I’ll be cooking up cabbage once a week but I’ve certainly found it’s appeal. Sometimes a little push and shame is really what you need to set things straight.
Roasted Cabbage (Serves 4-6)
- 1 medium head of cabbage
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 3 tbsp herbed olive oil (or plain olive oil with a blend of your favorite spices)
- Salt and Pepper
Preheat oven to 400°F. Remove any wilted or dried leaves from your head of cabbage. Cut the cabbage in half from the base to tip, then cut each half into 1 inch thick half moons, being careful to keep all leaves together. Spread half moons onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
In a small bowl, mix lemon juice and herbed olive oil.
Brush the mixture on both sides of the cabbage half moons and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Bake for 20 minutes until lightly browned and tender.