Chicago, IL

A Cabbage to Love

Sherry McGuinn

And a recipe fit for kings

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“In the night the cabbages catch at the moon, the leaves drip silver, the rows of cabbages are a series of little silver waterfalls in the moon.” Carl Sandburg

Some things are just too good to keep to yourself. Napa cabbage, often called Chinese cabbage, is the perfect example.

I’ve always loved the different textures in foods. A big salad eater, I scarf down more than my share of cruciferous veggies, such as broccoli, cauliflower and brussel sprouts. And, of course, kale.

Cabbage, another member of the cruciferous family, is one veggie that never received much love from me. Not for any reason in particular. I just never thought much about it, other than to buy the pre-shredded kind to chuck into my salads, or stir-fries.

Low in calories and packed with health benefits, cabbage deserves a regular spot in your meal planning. Just one cup of raw, green cabbage contains the following:

  • Calories: 22
  • Protein: 1 gram
  • Fiber: 2 grams
  • Vitamin K: 85% of the RDI
  • Vitamin C: 54% of the RDI
  • Folate: 10% of the RDI
  • Manganese: 7% of the RDI
  • Vitamin B6: 6% of the RDI
  • Calcium: 4% of the RDI
  • Potassium: 4% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 3% of the RDI

Because of its high fiber content, cabbage is also very filling. And, according to Healthline, cabbage is especially high in vitamin C, a potent antioxidant that may protect against heart disease, certain cancers, and vision loss.

Score!

Cabbage isn’t exactly an exotic veggie, so, certainly, you’ve seen the various varieties in your market’s produce section. Green, red, purple. Different shapes and sizes.

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I’m currently salivating over Napa cabbage, with its long, rather oblong head and gorgeous, spring green hue. Again, this is sometimes referred to as Chinese cabbage.

This crisp, wonderfully refreshing veggie caught my eye while binge-watching the Netflix show, “Somebody Feed Phil.” The show follows the globe-trotting Phil Rosenthal, creator of “Everybody Loves Raymond,” as he eats his way from country to country.

The locales are fascinating and Rosenthal is as engaging as you might expect. He’s also reed-thin, which, given the way he chows down, is a kick in the keister to us regular folk. The dude does walk a lot in his show, so maybe that’s his secret.

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It was the Buenos Aires episode that got me hooked on Napa cabbage. Now, Buenos Aires is a city where the locals REALLY like their meat, but Rosenthal shot a scene at a “vegetable-forward” restaurant, Narda Comedar, where owner and celebrity chef, Narda Lepes, served up her signature Napa cabbage salad.

Now, I don’t have the exact recipe per se, but there really isn’t much to it. The beauty lies in its simplicity and light, fresh flavors that literally dance on the tongue. Light, yet satisfying due to the salad’s many textures.

Start with a fresh, tightly-packed head of Napa cabbage. Strip the outer leaves and cut the head in half length-wise. Depending upon the size of the cabbage, a half-head is a serving. I normally get the big guys.

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I don’t remember if Narda rinsed the cabbage, but I generally do not. If you do rinse, make sure you dry the cabbage well.

With your fingers, lightly separate the leaves and drizzle them with olive oil.

Season the cabbage with sea salt and pepper.

In a small bowl, mix plain, Greek yogurt with any minced herbs of your choosing. (I often cheat with dried.) Spoon the herb sauce over the cabbage, and then top with a gorgeous, perfectly soft-boiled egg.

Finally, toast some sliced or slivered almonds in a skillet, or even, in the microwave, and sprinkle over all that deliciousness.

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Cut into this culinary work of art and enjoy. The textures and layers of flavors, combined with the unctuous quality of the egg, are in a word, “divine.”

You can eat this as a side dish with a protein, or on its own, as I normally do. You can also play with the recipe, adding your own fillips here and there. I often crumble some Italian tuna, packed in olive oil, over the top.

Muy deliciosa!

Try this dish just once, and, unless you’re a veggie hater, I believe you’ll be as hooked as I am.

To your health. And, thanks for reading.

© Sherry McGuinn, 2021. All Rights Reserved.

Sherry McGuinn is a slightly-twisted, longtime Chicago-area writer and award-winning screenwriter. Her work has appeared in The Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, and numerous other publications. Sherry’s manager is currently pitching her newest screenplay, a drama with dark, comedic overtones and inspired by a true story.

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