As we inch closer to spring, the vendors at the bring new items to the table, but cabbage is still available to highlight your St. Patty’s Day festivities. Corned beef and cabbage is thought to be a traditional Irish dish, but in truth, it was Irish immigrants who began consuming the famous combo when they began their lives in America.
Corned beef, or salt-cured beef as it was known, was very expensive in Ireland but, according to Wikipedia, it was less expensive in America and was “used as a substitute for bacon by Irish American immigrants in the late 19th century." Cabbage, another inexpensive ingredient, became a staple of the lower working class, and as more people began to enjoy it, the tradition of serving the famous combination took hold in the States.
Cabbage is rich in Vitamins A and C, and provides 16 percent of the daily requirement of dietary fiber, as well as 3 grams of protein per serving. It is a versatile vegetable that crosses cultures easily, i.e. Asian dumplings wrapped in cabbage leaves, Indian spiced cabbage dishes (Indian food wisdom claims that cabbage cleans out the digestive system), and stews or soups from every country around the world.
Walking through the Mar Vista Farmer’s Market, it was easy to find an assortment of cabbage available from many vendors. John Given’s Farm has organic cabbage for $2 per pound. I also found giant cabbages at Fresno Evergreen for $3 each. Gloria’s Fruits and Vegetables has sustainably farmed fresh cabbage for $1 a piece. So now that you know where to shop, what will you do with your cabbage stash?
I’ve been personally testing a few recipes that highlight the wonders of cabbage. They are easy to make and very tasty. First up: Caramelized Onion and Cabbage Soup. This hearty soup is topped with cheesy croutons, which makes it irresistible. If you’re looking for some noodles to go with your cabbage, try these Indonesian-Style Noodles with ginger, red pepper flakes and cilantro. The flavors mingle well with earthy cabbages.
The most unusual recipe I tried recently is one for Cabbage Muthias: a dumpling that uses shredded cabbage (not finely chopped as the instructions suggest) and is held together by spiced garbanzo bean flour. The dumplings are steamed on a bed of cabbage as well, making for a beautiful table presentation.
So even if you aren’t cooking up a traditional corned beef and cabbage recipe for this St. Patty’s Day, you can still take advantage of the Mar Vista Farmers’ Market bounty this season. Erin Go Bragh!