I can’t say it looks or feels much like spring yet, but last night, a visitor reminded me that hibernation is over! The biggest black bear I’ve ever seen came right up to my kitchen door to swipe the bird feeder. By the time I crossed the room for the camera, he’d inhaled the seed and ambled away, no posing for a silly photographer-potter in pajamas.
We did have a respite from the chill last weekend when we flew to Florida for Wendy and Rick’s wedding. It was a beautiful, untraditional, meaningful, and joyful event. Held in deep woods, the ceremony included a four winds ritual, blowing of the shofar by the bride’s ex-husband, and a slide show of selfies of the couple on their many adventures. The “chuppa,” a ship’s sail, was held by the bride and groom’s surviving siblings, and the officiant was their therapist, a dear man whose sweet husband sobbed through the taking of the vows.
It was a huge honor to stand beside my sister as she celebrated her love for a truly wonderful partner. I wish them a long and happy life together. You may know that this has been a troubled time for our family, both of our parents struggling with terrible health problems. It was a blessing for all of us to celebrate a happy occasion.
Wendy and I share many things, including a love of running and hiking, and a commitment to healthy eating. We both eat lots of vegetables, and cabbage happens to be a favorite. It’s affordable, and Mom taught us to value a bargain. We believe that if you eat a big pile of cabbage, you feel like you’ve had something substantial. I can’t remember which one of us invented Unstuffed Cabbage, but we almost always make it when we’re together.
So, with my sister very much in my heart, I was immediately drawn to this recipe when I saw it on Food 52. As noodle lovers who are always trying to cut down on carbs, anything remotely pasta-ish seems worth a try. Now, of course, cabbage is not pasta. But I gotta say, this does hit some of the notes. It is soft and deeply savory. The sauce is rich and clings beautifully to the strands of vegetables. And the color is pure spring.
The Food 52 recipe calls for savoy cabbage. I used regular cabbage. I made a few other changes to their recipe because that’s how I roll.
This makes a perfect main course with the addition of a fried egg or two, a piece of fish or chicken, or pork. I’m thinking Easter or Passover, ya know?
½ large head cabbage
1 large leek
½ stick (4 tbs.) butter
½ cup grated parm, plus extra for serving
1 tsp. cracked black pepper
zest and juice of ½ lemon
salt to taste
Trim the leek of all dark green. Cut it in half and then into eights lengthwise, so you create thin strands. Cut the cabbage into thin ribbons. Wash well, and dry in a spinner or pat dry with towels.
Melt half the butter in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Begin to sauté the leeks over med-high heat until they start to wilt. Add a good pinch of salt. Throw a couple of tablespoons of water into the pot, stir, cover, and turn heat to low. Cook for 5 minutes.
Now add the remaining butter and the cabbage, turn the heat to high and get the cabbage all heated, stirring, for a few minutes. Add a pinch more salt. Throw another couple tablespoonfuls of water into the pot, cover again, and turn heat to med-low. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes or so. Make sure that the bottom of the pot doesn’t get dry; if it does, add more water.
Taste a strand of cabbage for doneness; it should be quite soft, cook a bit more if needed.
Off heat, add the lemon juice, zest, parm, and pepper, and stir vigorously for a few minutes. Serve, passing extra parm, pepper, and lemon.