It took me years to grow cabbage that, when cut open, wasn’t riddled with cabbageworms and loopers. Since successfully protecting against these pests with netted mini-hoop houses, I’ve become enamored of several cabbage varieties.
This year, I grew both red and green head cabbage from starts. From seed, a slow-bolt napa cabbage was joined by a leafy brassica called Tokyo Bekana, which produced young, green leaves for salads long after lettuces had bolted, plus older ribs for stir-fries. I’ve pickled most of the head and napa cabbage as several variations on sauerkraut, kimchi and slaw.
I harvested the biggest cabbage of the season last week, a red monster that weighed more than 7 pounds. Most is fermenting as curtido, a Salvadorian cabbage slaw that will turn bright purple from the cabbage’s leaves. But I carved off some to make a flavorful and filling salad. You can use red or green cabbage; swap in vegetables like shredded zucchini and snow peas, depending on what’s available; or add protein like tofu, shrimp or chicken. It’s also delicious with the dressing I shared earlier this month for Tomato-Cucumber Salad.
Crunchy Cabbage Salad
2 tablespoons salted butter
1/4 cup raw sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
1/2 cup sliced or slivered almonds
1 small head green or red cabbage (about 1-1/2 pounds), shredded
2 carrots, shredded
3 scallions or green tops from onions, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup lime juice
1-inch fresh gingerroot, grated
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 cup sunflower or other neutral oil
In a small skillet, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the sesame seeds and toast for about two minutes. When they start popping, add the chili flakes. Stir in the almonds and cook for about one minute, until just toasted. Spread the mixture on a large plate to cool.
After removing any loose outer leaves, prepare to shred the cabbage by resting the stem end on a cutting board. Using a large sharp knife, cut down the cabbage to the stem to form quarters, and then cut out the solid core pieces. Lay the flat of each wedge on the cutting board and cut it into thin strips, adding these to a large bowl. Use a peeler to shred the carrots: Peel off the outer layer to use or compost, and then continue peeling the carrots into thin strips down to their core, adding the strips to the bowl.
Add the onion and pepper slices and the chopped cilantro to the bowl, and then toss the salad until combined. Add the seed mixture and gently toss again.
In a small jar or measuring cup, combine the lime juice, ginger and honey, shaking or whisking until blended. Add the oil and shake or whisk again until the ingredients combine. Just before serving, pour half of the dressing over the salad and toss to mix; taste and add more dressing as needed.
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