Culinary Smackdown – Battle Cabbage – Dream A Little Dream…Posted: February 27, 2012
Holy moly, Batman! The end of February nearly snuck up on me and I hadn’t posted by contribution to Battle Cabbage yet. This new job has completely consumed my brain. But it’s getting better. Still trying to get used to the new schedule, trying not to sleep too much, etc., etc. Change is good, right? Yes, change is good.
So, to the cabbage-ness. When I began to think about what I wanted to present for my own contribution, I first had an idea of doing a recipe from one of Bert Greene’s wonderful cookbooks. I rely on two of them often. If you don’t have that one and his grains cookbooks, I can’t recommend them highly enough. However, the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to do something original with le chou. And one morning, I simply woke up with the recipe complete in my head. Seriously, I am not kidding. I got the following in a dream. The results were somewhat mixed, but overall I was happy with it, especially the look of it, which turned out exactly the way I wanted it to. So, I am happy to present Grumpy’s Red Cabbage and Sweet Potato “Lasagna”:
The ingredients for this one are so simple:
Head of red cabbage, one sweet potato, carton of ricotta cheese. In addition, I used some brown sugar, cinnamon, cider vinegar and a little salt and pepper.
Then I sliced the sweet potato thin with the mandoline and sprinkled the slices with a little lemon juice to keep them the lovely orange color.
Next, I put about 1/4 to 1/3 of the ricotta in a bowl, added 1 T each of brown sugar and cider vinegar, about 1/2 tsp of cinnamon and stirred to mix. Then I set that aside.
Then I set some water on to boil so I could blanch the cabbage leaves. I discovered a very interesting chemical phenomena. When you blanch red cabbage the water afterward turns a most interesting color!
Seriously–I added nothing to the water, no salt, nothing. That was just what happened by placing the red leaves in the boiling water for a couple of minutes. So cool! Then, after the cabbage cooled a little bit, I started assembling the dish:
First a layer of blanched cabbage leaves, then a layer of sweet potato slices, topped with the ricotta mix.
Continue until the dish is full. I added a little bit of the blanching water at the end because I do hate a dry casserole. I popped it into a 350 degree oven for about an hour to an hour and a half. I wanted everything to be tender. It came out exactly the way I imagined it!
And on the plate:
I love the colors of the two veggies with the creaminess of the ricotta peeking out. But the proof of the pudding is in the tasting, so how was it? Well, I’ll be honest. It was–all right. I ate the above plate alone and then I had a second serving the day after with other veggies and a serving of meat. It was definitely better the next day, so if you want to try this, make it the day before you plan to serve it.
Other things I learned: I initially thought I would cut the cabbage leaves into wide strips like lasagna “noodles” but then decided to leave them whole. Next time, I’ll cut them. I would also add something a bit more savory for the cabbage layer–a sprinkle of garlic powder along with maybe a tiny bit of Parmesan cheese. The cinnamon went great with the sweet potatoes, and the cider vinegar was good with the cabbage and the brown sugar worked on both, but the cabbage needed something else to punch it up a bit. I’ve cooked winter squash with a combo of maple syrup and garlic and those two seem to compliment each other well.
Overall, however, I was very satisfied with it and I would make it again with the above changes. I’ve already got a few entries up, so I’m going to go check them out. Leave me a comment here with your links and I’ll hurry over to judge. Happy Leap Year and Happy Battle Cabbage!!