Friday, October 15, 2010

Warm Red Cabbage Salad with Sunflower Seeds, Feta and Apricots

I think cabbage gets a bum wrap. Perhaps because it's often overcooked to a smelly, shapeless heap. Maybe because of ridiculous, misbegotten diets that tell you to eat nothing but flavorless cabbage soup three times a day. Or because it is an over-goopy, mayonnaise-y mess on the side of fast food fried chicken places.

I would like to be an advocate for cabbage. It keeps nearly forever in the refrigerator. It's great as a crunchy addition to tacos, tuna salad or lightly dressed with a vinaigrette cole slaw. Or it can be cooked in something like this adaptable salad that combines sweet, salt and sour in a perfect blend. Try playing around with the ingredients - switch the golden raisins for currants or apricots like I did. And any soft, salty cheese would pair well - feta or goat cheese were recommended, but I could also see a queso fresco working just as well. Perfect for the end of the week when the supplies are getting low and it's time to start assembling shopping lists for the market this weekend.

Warm Red Cabbage Salad with Sunflower Seeds, Feta and Apricots
adapted from The Complete Tassajara Cookbook

1/2 cup sunflower seeds (pine nuts would also be good)
1 teaspoon natural cane sugar (or brown sugar)
fine grain sea salt
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 red onion, diced (I used a regular yellow onion)
3 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 pound head of red cabbage or radicchio, quartered and cut into thin ribbons
2 ounces golden raisins (or other plump, chopped dried fruit - I used apricots)
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 ounces feta, crumbled (goat cheese also recommended as an alternative)
Roast the sunflower seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat until golden brown. Sprinkle on the sugar, and a couple pinches of salt. Stir until the sugar melts and coats the seeds. Transfer the seeds immediately to a plate so they don't stick to the pan. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and saute the onion for a minutes or two with a couple pinches of salt. Stir in the garlic, and the cabbage, and a few more pinches of salt. Stir and cook for just a minute or so, or until the cabbage softens up just a touch. Then stir in most of the raisins and the vinegar. The cabbage will continue to get more and more tender even after you remove it from the heat, so keep that in mind, and do your best to avoid overcooking it - where it collapses entirely.

Fold in half of the feta, most of the sunflower seeds, then taste. Season with more salt if needed. Serve garnished with the remaining raisins, goat cheese, and sunflower seeds

Serves 4 to 6.

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