I don’t know why it’s taken me quite so long to write about red cabbage. It’s a powerhouse of nutrition in a pretty package.
Its vivid color reveals a powerful concentration of anthocyanins which are believed to have anti-oxidant properties, not to mention that it delivers a pretty good dose of Vitamin C.
So how come so many people shy away from it? I have to think it may have something to do with many people’s first encounter with the cabbage family…coleslaw. Bland, soggy and dripping in mayo, this quintessential American slaw does cabbage no favors.
But I grew up eating this crunchy, cruciferous vegetable; mainly raw, shredded, spiked with spicy Dijon mustard and mouth puckering vinegar.
Its vibrant color intensified and sturdy texture softened under the acidity of the vinegar while the mustard added even more heat to this brightly colored member of the cabbage family and a little olive oil rounded out the sharp edges.
I still make it that way, but lately I’ve taken to accessorizing my red cabbage salads a bit. Radicchio and endive have joined the mix for a bitter edge as well as fennel for added freshness and crunch.
A handful of buttery walnuts and sweet, chewy raisins are tossed in for texture and balance while snippets of fresh flat leaf parsley add some liveliness to the color palate.
This is my winter salad, the one I come back to time and time again when I’m craving something light and crunchy in the middle of a season dominated by heartiness and warmth.