Savoring Fresh Savoy Cabbage
Kaua’i Farm Connection (formerly known as Kaua’i Farmer’s Co-op) is a beyond-organic, bio-intensive fruit and vegetable distribution network. The year-round, community-supported agriculture program provides members with weekly shares of local produce. KFC accepts credit cards and SNAP EBT cards.
What’s growing: Apple bananas, aloe, arugula, avocado, awapuhi ginger, broccoli, bunching onions, celery, chili peppers, chives, choy, cilantro, collard greens, comfrey, curly kale, cucumber, dandelion greens, edible flowers, eggplant, escarole, garlic chives, grapefruit, Greek oregano, green beans, Italian basil, Italian chicory, lemon balm, lemongrass, lilikoi, macadamia nuts, Malabar spinach, mango, Meyer lemons, naval oranges, noni, patchouli, purple sugarcane, rosemary, Savoy cabbage, spearmint, squash, sweet peppers, sweet potatoes, Swiss chard, Tahitian limes, tangelos, yellow ginger.
Hundreds of varieties of cabbage are grown throughout the world. Although Chinese and Napa cabbages are available, American markets offer three basic types: green, red and Savoy. Vigorously crinkled with dark-green outer leaves, Savoy is the sweetest and most dramatic-looking cabbage, and the choice variety for stuffing, salads and coleslaw. The flavor of Savoy cabbage is a little sweet and mild. The texture is more delicate than red and green cabbage.
Season: Cabbage is a cold-season crop that takes about 90 days to grow from seed to table.
What to look for: Cabbage should be firm and heavy, the leaves tightly against each other. Ideally, Savoy will be wreathed in some of its outer leaves.
Storage: Keep Savoy cabbage in a plastic bag in your salad crisper. It will keep for about a week, but its nutritive value will diminish with time.
Tip: Long cooking in covered pots gives cabbage its sulfuric bite. Brief cooking keeps cabbage sweet and tender.
Preparation: The words “boiled cabbage” bring smelly, flaccid, pale leaves to mind. If cooked correctly, cabbage can be deeply satisfying and immensely comforting. In An Everlasting Meal, Tamar Adler writes, “A perfect way to flatter cabbage is to boil it. Cut the whole cabbage into four wedges, leaving them attached at the core. Drop wedges into well-salted water and cook them until the solid pieces of the core are easily cut with a knife. Quickly drain and lay the wedges on a plate, add a long drizzle of olive oil and a splash of vinegar. This is heavenly.”
I leave off the vinegar and add a sprinkle of Hawaiian sea salt. It makes a fine side dish, and pairs well with steamed rice and kalua pork. Add cabbage to a pot of beans toward the end of cooking – it only needs five minutes at a simmer – and top with freshly grated Parmesan.
Cabbage also can be braised, sauteed, pickled, roasted and steamed, and it pairs well with olive oil, butter, brown butter, mustard oil, cream, sour cream, Cheddar, Parmesan, horse-radish, curry spices, dill, sage, apples, apple cider, ginger and potatoes.
Health benefits: Cabbage is high on the list of anti-cancer foods. According to Nutrition Almanac by John D. Kirschmann, cabbage is a cancer fighter and speeds estrogen metabolism. Polyps leading to colon cancer are discouraged (several servings per week) and breast cancer is prevented. Two tablespoons a day may protect against stomach cancer. Savoy cabbage contains a significant amount of beta carotene.
Cabbage also is anti-ulcer (the juice), antibacterial and antiviral. Sauerkraut may cause gas or trigger migraines. The most rewards are gained by eating cabbage raw.
Kaua’i Farm Connection produce can be found at: Grocery: Harvest Market and Papaya’s Natural Foods. Restaurants: Hukilau Lanai and Oasis on the Beach.
Monthly, quarterly and biannual CSA memberships include weekly service to Kapa’a or pickup at Kauapea Farm in Kilauea. Weekly custom boxes also are available. KFC now is accepting wholesale accounts for the east and north sides of Kaua’i.
Kaua’i Farm Connection will host a farm-to-table dinner Saturday, Dec. 1. The menu will feature food sourced from the Kilauea area, and live music will be provided by Mamuse. Call 828-0800.
SPICY SAVOY SLAW
Try this healthy version of coleslaw, especially if you have a cold. It’s loaded with nutrients and has a pungent kick. Serve it as a side dish, on top of tacos or over steamed rice. Makes six servings.
* 1 Savoy cabbage, shredded
* 1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
* 1 medium carrot, shredded
* 1/2 medium Maui onion, sliced thinly
* 1/4 cup white vinegar
* 1 tablespoon Kaua’i honey
* 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
* 1 tablespoon grated fresh turmeric
* 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Put everything in a large bowl and toss to combine. Season to taste. Cover and refrigerate before serving. Keeps for three to four days.
Marta Lane is a Kaua’i-based food writer. For more information, visit TastingKauai.com.