What's this in my CSA box? Green Cabbage
Hi, everyone! I've started receiving my fall CSA share and as I work through what to cook with what's in my boxes, I decided to start a blog series to share recipes and ideas for fall produce and if you are signed up for a CSA what you might make with the items in your box.
First, what's a CSA? It stands for Community Supported Agriculture. It's a way to connect with a local farmer to receive weekly/bi-weekly shares of what they grow. You're getting the best the season offers where you live from a source that you know and you're supporting the local farmers in your area.
Second, how does it work? There are a variety of services these days but the general idea is you sign up with one farmer (or group of farmers) and you receive weekly or bi-weekly boxes of whatever is fresh at that time. The boxes may be delivered to your door or you can pick up at a location near where you live.
So, why sign up for a CSA? It's an investment in your health, community, and local economy. Eating more fruits and vegetables is something everyone should do and rather than buying the same items every week from your grocery store no matter what the month is, you get to play with eating what's in season and grown in your "back yard."
In the summer months, I find it easier to get to the farmers markets to shop around for what looks good. There's so much to choose from in the heart growing season. But, in the winter months, my garden is tucked away until the spring thaw and I get depressed eating mushy strawberries and flavorless tomatoes shipped in from somewhere far away. Getting used to eating things I don't normally eat because it's what is grown where I live is something I've worked on over the years. While I still don't like pumpkin, I can say I've learned to eat/like other varieties of squash!
I know this is a longer blog that normal for me but I wanted to set the stage for this blog series. If you belong to a CSA, you may find these recipe ideas helpful with the shares you receive. If you've wanted to sign up for a CSA but were nervous about being able to cook with what you get, consider getting help from a personal chef like The RedHead Chef. It can really help teach you what you can do with produce you may not have heard of or with lots of something you may not like (yet!).
In the box I received this week, I was excited and concerned to see two heads of green cabbage. Yikes! What am I going to do with this? Summer slaws seem a bit out of season now that it's cold. Cabbage rolls? Way more sauerkraut than I like? I decided to do a little research and address those childhood memories of cabbage.
Wow. Nothing like jumping right in, eh? Have to hand it to my mom for exposing us to a wide variety of vegetables as kids. The crazy thing is I think we ate this pretty regularly. I remember the smell of the cabbage cooking and the kind of bitter but crunchy texture. It wasn't my favorite but didn't hate it either (my siblings probably have different memories). As I got older I wanted to learn recipes from my family and never realized that "creamed" vegetables is a thing in Swedish cuisine. Now I know why my grandparents and aunts put white sauce on pretty much anything! My mom did this a little differently and made a bechamel for the cream. I use real cream which I think gives the dish a bit more richness. But, the flavor with the cooked cabbage takes me right back to the kitchen table on the farm on chilly fall nights.
1/2 head green cabbage chopped
6-8 oz heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
Blanch the cabbage for about 3 minutes in boiling water. Shock cool the cabbage in ice cold water. Pour the cream in a sauce pan and bring to a simmer. If you want to add a bit of flour to thicken the cream quickly, whisk in about a teaspoon into the cream and let cook to thicken. Add the cabbage and continue to cook to thicken the sauce. Salt and pepper to taste.
Roasted Cabbage Salad
I wanted to try a more modern side dish and played with roasting the cabbage. This warm salad is a super flavorful way to incorporate cabbage into a meal. Since I had pears in my box, it made it easy to put together with what I had in my pantry/refrigerator.
1/2 head green cabbage cut in quarters
2 pears quartered
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
2 oz crumbled blue cheese
juice from 1/2 lemon
Preheat oven to 425. Place the cabbage on a sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast cabbage for 30-35 minutes. Add pears to the pan for the last 5-7 minutes.
Place wedges on serving platter with the pears. Sprinkle the walnuts, blue cheese around and squeeze lemon juice on the top.
Cabbage and Potato Soup
Who doesn't think about soup when you have a cabbage to cook? It's a great comfort food and the pairing with the potatoes in my box also made sense. The leeks give this soup that wonderful fall soup flavor.
3 Tb unsalted butter
1-2 leeks, sliced white and green parts
1/2 head green cabbage
garlic clove minced
1-2 potatoes peeled and diced
3 cups vegetable stock
1 tsp salt
2 fresh thyme sprigs
Melt the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the leeks and cook until soft about 5 mins. Add the garlic and cook about a minute until fragrant. Add the cabbage and cook until the cabbage is soft and beginning to caramelize.
Add potatoes and stock to the pot. Season with the salt, thyme, and pepper. Simmer, partly covered, until the potatoes are cooked. About 40-45 minutes. Add the parmesan cheese to the soup to thicken or sprinkle on top of the soup when served.
Cannellini Beans with Cabbage and Pasta
I had to do some searching to find something different to do with green cabbage. I wanted to find something that was more of a main dish but still highlighted cabbage. I found this recipe from Mark Bittman for a pasta dish. I hadn't thought about cabbage and pasta but the flavors are fairly close to the soup recipe above but a bit more filling as a main dish with the cannellini beans and pasta. Don't be afraid to give it a try!
From Mark Bittman "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian"
1/2 head cabbage, cored and chopped
1/2 lb cavatelli
2 Tbs olive oil
1 large leek sliced white and green parts
1 celery stalk chopped
2 fresh thyme sprigs
3 cups cooked or canned cannelloni beans, drained
parmesan cheese, grated
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add cabbage and cook for 3 minutes until tender. Remove the cabbage from the pot but keep the water boiling. Set aside cabbage and add pasta to pot and cook until tender around 7 minutes. Reserve about 1-2 cups of the pasta water before draining the pasta.
Heat the oil in a pan over medium high heat. Add the leeks and celery and cook until softened about 5 minutes. Add the thyme and cook for another minute. Add the pasta water, beans, and cabbage. Season with salt/pepper. Add the pasta and some parmesan cheese and cook until heated through and sauce thickens. Serve with additional grated parmesan on top.
I hope you enjoy this blog series and it encourages you to consider signing up for a CSA this winter. It's fun to share my experimenting with these recipes and ingredients. We'll see what arrives next!