Freshly cut cabbage is one of the squeakiest clean foods I ever eat. I like cabbage fifty different ways, at least, but nothing equals a thin sliver eased off the wide edge of a freshly cut quarter, just after opening the cabbage for the first time. That bite is a sneak, a little sidebar munch that refreshes while I get down to business, which in the case of cabbage may be slaw, salad, soup, saute´, or stuffed/unstuffed rolls. Today, being late winter/early spring, we had cabbage on hand. Since we have a trip coming up, our produce drawers are emptying. It turned out to be a capital day for cabbage.
At lunch it occurred to me that I could build on the idea of the small bite of extremely fresh cabbage tasted while cooking and make a little stack of thin, plain, sweet, cold, crunchy cabbage. I made the little stack, and ate it as finger food, but realized halfway into the second sliver that there's a reason for dressing or cooking cabbage once it gets beyond those first joyous bites. Repetitive cabbage slivers - boring, I hate to admit, and a bit tiring to chew, too.
Dinner, a last minute affair without proper time for cooking, included thin cabbage slivers sauteéd briefly in olive oil, with a little garlic, dill weed, salt and pepper, and a light sprinkle of brown rice vinegar just before serving. Even after my long-chewing lunch experience, I still loved the few bites of freshly cut cabbage I stole as I was preparing the dish.
I confess, though, that a favorite recent cabbage treatment involves cooking an intact wedge slowly in homemade butter (cast iron skillet, covered until the cabbage it tender, sprinkle with great salt and pepper) until it turns caramel underneath. Carefully turn it to get matching caramel on the second side. Cabbages this winter have been so heavy, dense, and sweet that this slow-cooked Caramel Cabbage could pass for dessert.
Photo Credit: rivertim - Thank You!