Saturday, July 9, 2011

Basic White Cabbage Salad--Polish Cuisine Classic

It has been a while since I posted a cabbage recipe, so I think it is time for another one. I can only imagine the green heads that pile up at Polish farmers' markets. Now is the season when it tastes best and we serve it very often fresh as salads or slightly sautéed in butter. Cabbage is available later as well as it preserves well over the winter, but my favorite is this very first crop, when it still rather green than white, delicate and sweet. It is funny that this simple, unsophisticated vegetable also tastes best if it is prepare in the simplest way. All the cabbage salads are very basic and do not need any special ingredients. And we do not serve it with heavy mayonnaise, but mostly with light oil and lemon.

Today's recipe is probably the most popular version of cabbage salad, which is served in all Polish homes and traditional restaurants. The whole taste of this salad comes from good, in many places still organic, cabbage. It tastes great with fish--especially fried, or any fried meat balls and breaded pork chops (wiener schnitzel or cotoletta alla milanese type), and boiled baby potatoes.

In the U.S. I serve it, like a traditional coleslaw, to accompany roasted or grilled meats. This salad is not only healthy but also makes for a very light addition to any meal. Throwing an extra handful of fresh herbs makes this salad a real vitamin bomb!

Basic Cabbage Salad
(Serves 4-6)

6 cups white,tiny shredded cabbage( about half a medium head),
2 medium carrots, cut julienne or on a large whole grater,
1/2 medium onion, cut in half and then finely sliced,
1/4 cup fresh, chopped dill,
1/4 flat leaves, Italian parsley ,chopped,
2 tbsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar,
3 tbsp grape seed or rice bran oil (or any light vegetable oil),
1 tbsp sugar,
1 tsp salt,
freshly ground pepper to taste.

1. Shred the entire cabbage (except the core) and place it in a large bowl. Sprinkle with salt, mix, and gently squeeze with hand, so the salt can penetrate the cabbage and soften it a bit.
2. Set aside for about 10 minutes. Cabbage, especially young, will release juice. Some drain it out but the juice contains all the vitamins so we want to preserve it in the salad.
3. After that time add sugar and lemon (or vinegar) and mix again.
4. Add grated carrot, onion, parsley and dill. At this point you need to try it--the salad should have a delicately sweet taste but it should be predominately sour.If cabbage and carrot you use are young and sweet, you may add a bit more lemon or vinegar (I always use white vinegar to preserve the light color of the cabbage).
5. When the cabbage has a desirable taste, finish it with pepper and oil. Mix, let it stand for another 10 minutes and serve.


Mme Forsman said...

This is amazing! Everyone wanted seconds. It's a keeper.

Ellen Thompson said...

Just came back from Poland and was looking to recreate the delicious salads. This really hit the spot. Looking forward to trying other recipes.