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Cabbage is a spring vegetable, too; try it now

At last week’s Salisbury-Rowan Farmers Market, David Correll said, “please do something about cabagges. I got cabbages coming out my ears!”

And they looked great, from the purple cabbage to a nearly perfect head of crinkly-leafed Savoy cabbage.

Too often, we relegate cabbage to being boiled to death and served only in fall and winter, but there’s so much more you can do with it. In many cases, just pretend it’s lettuce and used it in salads. Put it on a burger or sandwich for extra crunch. Use a leaf of cabbage to serve chicken or tuna salad, or a cool shrimp salad. Think outside the boiling water.

Grills wedges of savoy cabbage and serve them with buttermilk ranch dressing and a sprinkling of cooked bacon.

Cabbage cooked with apples is a delicious side dish. Try a raw salad combination of cabbage, apple and kale, and dress with a simple dressing of olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Use cabbage in your tacos instead of iceberg lettuce, it’s more authentic. The cabbage is especially good with pork fillings, such as ground pork. It’s also a nice, cool contrast to chorizo.

Everyone has a favorite cole slaw recipe, probably one handed down from mother or grandmother, or one from a barbecue restaurant.

There’s the creamy vs. vinegary dressing debate, and each has passionate defenders.

To change up the same old, slaw, consider adding ingredients, such as fresh apple, sliced kohlrabi, green onion, celery, carrot, water chestnuts.

One of the best slaws I ever tasted had a vinegar-based dressing with chunks of blue cheese. The creamy, sharp cheese goes well with cabbage. Add chili powder or cayenne pepper to the dressing, for a kick, or add jalapeños, serranos or other chili peppers. It’s up to you whether you remove the seeds and ribs.

Fresh dill is a great addition to slaw dressings, especially if you want to freshen up a creamy dressing. Add parsley, cilantro, fresh thyme or basil to the slaw.

Make a cool salad with cabbage, cucumbers, dill and slivered almonds.

Slice two small heads of cabbage, either green or savoy or a mixture. Napa will also work well. Add to a large bowl with 1 medium or 3 small cucumbers, sliced but not too thinly. Add the white and green parts of two green onions, and 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill.

To dress it, combine the juice of one lemon (or two if it’s small), 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tsp. or up to a half tablespoon of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add slivered almonds and toss.

There is a bit of debate on the right way to fry cabbage. Some use extra oil, some add onions and a lot of sugar, some don’t use onions. Some add spices like caraway seed. Some use no sugar at all.

But some things remain the same. It’s basic ingredients are cabbage, bacon, salt and pepper

Fried Cabbage

3 slices bacon

Salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 head cabbage, cored and sliced

1 onion, sliced or chopped

A pinch or more of brown or white sugar

Cook the bacon in a large pot over medium heat. When bacon is crisp, remove from pan and add onion. Season with salt and pepper, and cook until just tender, with little browning. Add cabbage, season with salt and pepper. Add sugar, if desired. Put lid on pan and cook until cabbage is desired doneness, 10 minutes or more. Adjust seasoning and serve.

If adding spices, do it when you add the cabbage.

Some like a sprinkling of vinegar on the cabbage, as well.

Spicy Cabbage Salad with Chicken

1/2 medium head of green or savoy cabbage, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2 tsp kosher salt, plus more

4 oil-packed anchovy fillets, coarsely chopped (optional)

1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest

3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

2 Tbsp. unseasoned rice vinegar (or white wine vinegar)

1 Tbsp. light soy sauce

4 tsp. white miso

1/4 tsp. sugar

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

4 celery stalks, thinly sliced on a diagonal, plus 1/2 cup celery leaves

2 green onions, green parts only, sliced on diagonal

1 serrano chile, thinly sliced

1 cup cilantro leaves

1 cup shredded, cooked  chicken

1/3 cup roasted, salted peanuts

2 tsp. sesame seeds

Toss cabbage and 1/2 tsp. salt in a large bowl. Massage vigorously with your hands until cabbage begins to release water and soften, about 2 minutes. This will season and tenderize the leaves. Drain; set aside.

Mix anchovies (if using) with lemon zest, lemon juice, vinegar, soy sauce, miso and sugar in a large bowl; whisk in oil. Add cabbage, celery and celery leaves, green onions, chile, cilantro and chicken to bowl and toss to combine.

Serve salad topped with peanuts and sesame seeds.

Anchovies will fall apart once the dressing is mixed together and do not leave a fishy taste.

White miso is a slightly sweet paste made of soybeans and rice, and should be in the Asian section of your supermarket.

Bon Appetit

Cabbage Casserole

30 oz. green cabbage (about 3 3/4 cups)

1 onion

2 garlic cloves

6 Tbsp. butter

1 to 1 1 /4 cups heavy whipping cream

5 1/3 Tbsp. sour cream

5 1/3 Tbsp. cream cheese

1 Tbsp. ranch seasoning

1/2 tsp. black pepper

Salt to taste

2/3 cup shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Shred cabbage, onion and garlic using a sharp knife of mandolin slicer (or food processor). Heat oil in a large frying pan and add the butter. Sauté the vegetables until softened, 8-10 minutes. Add cream, sour cream, cream cheese and seasoning. Stir and simmer about 5-10 minutes.

Add to a greased baking dish, sprinkle cheese on top and bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and golden.

Adapted from dietdoctor.com, this is a keto-friendly recipe. But it is heavy on fat. Try substituting Greek yogurt for the sour cream.

Cheddar cheese is the most popular cheese in the comments on the recipe.

Easy Taco Slaw

1/2 small head cabbage, chopped

1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced

1/2 red onion, minced

1 carrot, chopped

1 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro

1 lime, juiced

Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and let sit a few minutes for flavors to blend. Great on chicken tacos, fish tacos, pork tacos.

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