Monday, March 29, 2010

All about Savoy Cabbage

Savoy Cabbage
Savoy cabbage is the prettiest cabbage of all, with its fantastic crinkly leaves and its contrasting dark on pale color palette. Only a few outer leaves are dark green and quite so textured, inside it is creamy and pale. Despite its rugged appearance it's actually very tender and sweet. Best of all, it cooks quickly and easily and it doesn't have the sulfur odor so distinctive in other cabbage; just don't over cook it. Savoy cabbage is named for the Savoy region, a medieval duchy on the border of Italy, France and Switzerland. But I think we should call it by its lovely Italian name, cavolo verza. Now that's the name of a star!

Savoy cabbage is high in vitamin K, vitamin C and fiber. It's also a very good source of fiber, manganese, folate, vitamin B6, potassium, and omega-3 fatty acids. Heads of savoy cabbage are so large it's a good idea to have several dishes in mind when you purchase or harvest it. Because it is so tender, don't shy away from using it in salads. Just use salt and a vinegar or lemony dressing to help it wilt.

I like just about all cabbages, but savoy cabbage is my favorite and not just because it is so beautiful and healthy. The sweetness of savoy cabbage makes it a wonderful foil for rich and salty foods like duck confit, bacon or sausages. But because it is naturally mild and sweet, it is equally delicious as a bed for mild white fish or seafood. It can be cooked or used raw. It can be braised, roasted or boiled, and it's very easy to saute it in butter, olive oil or bacon fat. It can be used in preserved recipes like kimchi or sauerkraut.

Here are some ways to use savoy cabbage:

* Steam and serve with fish, or wrap the fish in the leaves and steam

* Saute it with boiled potatoes, garlic and onions

* Stuff the leaves with rice or potatoes and ground meat

* Add to minestrone

* Make sauerkraut

* Make kimchi

* Saute with bacon and spaetzle

* Use in borscht

* Shred it with carrots and seaon with apple cider vinegar, sugar and salt to make cole slaw

* Saute cabbage, bacon and onions then toss with egg noodles

* Combine with sliced sugar snap peas and a creamy dressing in slaw