I have mentioned that I have a love-hate relationship with brassicas, but I think that, at last, I’m growing up. I’ve had to because we grow them – a lot – and I’ve had to think of creative ways of dishing them up. In the last three or so months, we’ve had more broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage than we’ve known what to do with. So, I’ve learned to be a bit more adventurous….sometimes….
I avoid white cabbage – like the plague. White cabbage, presented as a seasonal vegetable in any establishment, will guarantee my never returning. Red cabbage is beautiful – inside and out, and in addition to doing it in a slaw (usually with a French dressing), I also cook it. My mother used to make “Apple Cabbage” – a family favourite. So do I, but with a twist. She would sauté chopped onion, and then add the shredded cabbage and a chopped apple (no water other than that on the cabbage, if you’ve had to rinse it). I do all of this and add a good glug of apple cider vinegar. In addition to enhancing the flavours, the vinegar stops the red cabbage from going blue. Instead, it remains a gorgeous purple.
Cabbage cooked this way is a wonderful accompaniment to a roast and/or any meal, particularly pork or beef; it’s a wonderful blast of colour in any meal. Also, and useful to know when one is cooking for only two, like I often do, prepared this way, the cabbage freezes well, with no deterioration in the flavour, so one can cook an entire cabbage, portion it and store to use at another time.
For some of our friends, I’m delighted to say, this is a very popular part of my repertoire!
Like cabbage, overcooked cauliflower is good for neither man nor beast and brings back not-so-great memories of institutional food. It’s a smell that’s hard to get out of one’s head. Anyway, having happily discovered roasted cauliflower, I was game to experiment, myself.
A few weeks ago, we had a surfeit of cauliflowers that were beginning to look like many-tentacled creatures from outer space rather than the beautiful white crowns that we are used to. That meant that whole roasted cauliflower was out of the question.
Not to be thwarted, I decided to break up the cauli into florets and to roast them with a bit of olive oil, garlic and chopped bacon. Once roasted, I sprinkled this with grated Parmesan and, wow, was it delicious!
Like the cauliflower, the broccoli was also beginning to bolt, thanks to an unseasonal but welcome warm spell. That meant broccoli soup and/or broccoli and blue were out of the question. Blanched broccoli in a salad is delicious, so I came up with this very simple broccoli(ni) salad:
I tidied up, blanched and refreshed the stalks, and laid them out on a platter. Over that I sprinkled a crushed clove of garlic, the juice of a lemon, salt and pepper and, of course, olive oil. Difficult, hey?