While sautéed chard and spinach receive more than their fair share of culinary play, you don't hear much about cooked cabbage or lowly, oft-derided iceberg lettuce. It's not their faults. Unjustly dismissed as kind of lame, these stalwarts of the produce aisle are losing the public relations war to hotter, hipper leafy greens.
Both have their advantages, however: they cost less, for one thing. And each should keep much longer than a clamshell of arugula. Admittedly, iceberg can't touch cabbage nutritionally. The latter is packed with fiber, Vitamin C, and Vitamin K, while the former makes you feel slightly better about eating a burger.
Still, both deserve more respect as potential standalone dishes. And this pair of recipes should help that process along.
The first comes from a 2009 Saveur piece on the wonders and mysteries (natch) of iceberg lettuce. Frequently scorned by Americans for being ho-hum, the iceberg's crispy, cold leaves have found wonderful homes in various Asian-inspired dishes. This simple Chinese-style stir fry is just one outstanding application, but Irene Sax's piece includes five others you might want to try.
The second recipe is for Gomen, or sautéed cabbage, and it comes from Mary Ostyn's excellent Family Feasts on $75 a Week cookbook. Four of her ten children are adopted from Ethiopia, and one introduced her new brood to this filling, healthy dish. Even without the hot pepper, we really dug its savoriness and crisp-tender texture.
So, next time you're deciding between four ounces of organic mesclun or a good, ol' fashioned head of greens, go for the big guy. You might be pleasantly surprised.
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon rice wine or dry sherry
- 3⁄4 teaspoon sugar
- 1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 tablespoon peanut oil
- 4 scallions, cut on the diagonal into 1" pieces
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1⁄2 head iceberg lettuce, cored, outermost leaves discarded, inner leaves torn into 4-inch pieces
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 1 large onion, diced fine
- 1 cup canned diced tomatoes, drained
- 1 head cabbage, cored, outer leaves discarded, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- Lots of Kosher salt, to taste
- 1 small hot red pepper (optional)
Combine soy sauce, sesame oil, sherry, sugar, and pepper in a bowl. Stir to mix. Set aside, but keep it close to your pan.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over high heat, about 3 or 4 minutes, or until very hot. Add peanut oil. Immediately add garlic and half the scallions. After 5 or 10 seconds, once the garlic starts to change color, add lettuce. Saute 60 seconds, stirring every so often. Add sauce. Cook another 60 seconds, stirring so all the lettuce gets some of the sauce. Kill heat. Salt to taste. Remove to a bowl. Top with extra scallions and serve.
Gomen (Sauteed Cabbage)
- serves 6 -
Adapted from Family Feasts for $75 a Week.
Add onions to a large, dry, nonstick skillet. Heat over medium high and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions start to soften and become translucent. Add oil and drop heat to medium. Add tomatoes, garlic, and red pepper if using. Heat through, stirring often. Add cabbage. Do not stir. Cook 4 or 5 minutes.
Okay, now stir. Then, cover and cook 20 minutes, stirring every few minutes. Cabbage will cook down. If things start to stick, add a little water.
When cabbage is tender and shiny, kill heat. Salt to taste and serve.