Kale varieties. Source of this photo: www.chowhound.com

Winter is the season of the brassicaceæ (the scientific name of kale & cabbage botanical family) dishes. Tasty, comfort meals, full of vitamins and minerals. They are better eaten in winter, their rich content “marries” better the needs of our organism.
There are some precautions to take when cooking them.
The first one: if we eat them raw, we must shred them and rub the shreds with coarse salt until soft. They will leave their vegetation water. Then wash the shredded cabbage, dry it with a clean linen and prepare it as you like. Cabbage salad is an excellent way to taste it (see recipe below).
The second one: when you cook them, combine some black pepper (whole grains), bacon and bay leaves. I share here with you an exquisite recipe of cabbage rolls with meat, a “must” in the Eastern Europe countries (in Romania they are a national dish and a Christmas favorite).
Ah, two words about the treasures cabbage & kale hide.
One cup of chopped raw cabbage or kale provides more than 100% of the daily value of vitamins A, C, and K. They are a great resource for minerals such as copper, calcium, sodium, potassium, manganese, and phosphorus which control blood pressure and iron which controls red blood cell production. Kale contains lutein which keeps the eyes and vision healthy. Per calorie, cabbage & kale offers more calcium than milk.

Cabbage I cultivate on my terrace.

These wonderful vegetables are packed with antioxidants, and research shows that it can lower your risks of 5 different types of cancer: bladder, breast, colon, ovary, and prostate. Because it’s a good source of fiber, cabbage & kale are great leafy vegetables for aiding in digestion and intestinal cleansing. High in iron that’s good for proper liver function and per calorie, kale has more iron than beef.
Not bad.
And now the recipes*.

*These recipes are extracted from my article “Cabbages & Co. A story of taste” on the quarterly review “l’Editoriale” published in Monaco.

Kale & Cabbage salad

Serves 8
1 cup raw shredded red cabbage
1 cup raw shredded white cabbage
1 cup raw shredded kale
1 cup grated carrot
1 cup grated green apple (Granny Smith)
1 cup chopped red onion
1 cup celery
4 teaspoons liquid honey
1/2 cup white wine vinegar (or apple vinegar)
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
4 tablespoons Italian olive oil
1 teaspoon mustard (moutarde de Dijon)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, lightly crushed
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Rub well the shredded cabbage & kale with ground salt until soft. Wash and dry them and put them in large bowl. Add the apples, carrots, celery and onion. Apart mix salt, pepper, vinegar, olive oil, mayonnaise, mustard, cumin seeds in a jar, cover it and shake vigorously the jar until all ingredients are well blended, then pour the vinaigrette on the vegetables. Toss well and keep in the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving.

Cabbage rolls with meat

Serves 8

1 white cabbage
500 gr minced pork meat
500 gr minced beef meat
1 cup minced fat bacon
4 slices of smoked bacon
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup rice
1 cup Tomate puree + 6 tablespoons
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup lemon juice freshly squeezed
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon black pepper (grains)
1 tablespoon paprika
5 bay leaves
1 cup fresh dill, finely chopped
2-3 branches of fresh thyme

For service:
1 cup sour cream
Hot polenta

First of all, carve and take off the cabbage core. Wash the cabbage and dry it. In a large casserole put 3-4 liters of salted water to boil. When it is boiling, add te lemon juice and put the cabbage inside. Low the flame and after 3 or 4 minutes start taking away one by one the leaves of the cabbage. Help yourself with two spoons. The leaves will come out easily. Put them on a clean linen and cut the bigger leaves in two. Take away the white central nerves of the leaves and keep them for later. (From a medium cabbage and cutting the bigger leaves in 2 or 3, you will obtain about 30 pieces).
In a casserole, put the minced bacon to fry slightly in the olive oil. When it starts melting, add the onions and cook 2 or 3 minutes until it is soft and transparent.
Transfer this composition in a bowl with the meats, the rice, the cup of tomato puree, the dill, the paprika, the salt and the ground black pepper. Mix well.

Take small quantities of this mixture and make rolls with the cabbage leaves, until all the leaves are filled. Use the remaining small leaves that cannot be filled and the white nerves of the big leaves and put them on the bottom of a casserole.

How to obtain the rolls: take a cabbage leaf, add filling, fold it.

Add the rolls, alternating them with grains of black pepper and bay leaves and cover with the smoked slices of bacon, the 6 tablespoons of tomato puree and the beaches of thyme. Cover with water and cook on low heat until the water is almost completely absorbed and the cabbage is cooked.

Serve hot with polenta and sour cream.
Note: This dish can be kept in the fridge, it is still better after two or three days. Remember, it has to be served always hot.
The right wine to serve with this tasty dish is Champagne or Prosecco. In alternative, you can offer a red wine like Barbera d’Asti or a Beaujolais. I prefer Champagne.

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