Thursday, February 12, 2009

Very purpley

While I'm here in Chicago with Jimmy, I have the supreme luxury of being able to plan my menus for the week.

I didn't realize how wonderful this process was until I took the time to pore over my cookbooks (at least, the ones I'm letting Jimmy "borrow" for the year) and clippings, dig through the archives of my favorite food blogs and pick out seven delectable offerings for the week. I even get to write them down and put together a grocery list so that I can get everything I need when I have access to stronger arms than mine for carrying groceries.

I understand that writing the above may strike you as rather strange, but I encourage you to give it a shot for one week before laughing at me too heartily. Instead of rummaging in cabinets every night to throw together a nutritious meal, frantically calling your significant other to pick up chicken or endives at the store on their way home, you can arrive home, stroll over to your list and have all of the ingredients needed to prepare any of seven outstanding offerings at hand.

In its own way, it's similar to channeling Julia Child--having your mise en place all set out and ready to go before you begin cooking. Which is, of course, something that I'm still working on.

I don't know why they don't call red cabbage purple. I mean, look at that rich color!

The second I cut in to it I just stopped, then immediately went to find a camera to document its colorful innards.

It has been my personal goal to cram as many fresh vegetables into Jimmy's body as humanly possible before he goes back to his frozen dinner habits once I leave (happily, they're things like these burritos, which I can get behind). Accordingly, the vast majority of my dinners have come from Chez Panisse Vegetables.

I was looking for something quick and filling after an Argentine tango lesson one Thursday night and my eyes landed on the seductive-sounding Warm Cabbage, Apple and Onion Slaw.

It was the perfect thing to warm us up what with the brutally cold weather we were having. The crisp cabbage played against the silky texture of the onions, while the sweetness of the apples went perfectly with the vinegar's much-needed kick of acidity.

Pair this with a glass of bright white wine, and you're set, fortified and ready to pull out those cookbooks and clippings once again.

Warm Cabbage, Onion and Apple Slaw
Adapted from Chez Panisse Vegetables by Alice Waters

1 medium yellow onion, peeled and sliced thinly
1 medium head of red (or green) cabbage
2 large sweet apples (I think I used Fuji), peeled, cored and sliced thinly
1 Tbs. olive oil
2 tsp. white wine vinegar (to taste, I may have used a bit more)
1 Tbs. water (or more as necessary)
Salt and pepper

Tear off any of the loose outer leaves of the cabbage and discard. Cut the cabbage in half through the core, then cut out the white core section. Slice the cabbage as thinly as you can.

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large saute pan. Add the onions, and cook until they are translucent and just starting to brown. Add the apples and saute everything together for 1 minute. Add the cabbage, S&P, vinegar and water to the pan and stir to mix well. Turn the heat up to high and continue stirring until the cabbage is barely cooked through (it should retain a little crunch).

Taste and correct for seasonings, adding a bit of vinegar or S&P as necessary.

Serves 4-6 as a main.

Note: I served this by itself the first night, and it was delicious. It was also lovely alongside roasted chicken the following night. Alice Waters suggests serving it with pork or duck and playing around with different vinegars. Balsamic seems like it'd be great in this.

P.S. For those of you out there who think I'm going about this backwards, that I should go buy what's fresh and then plan my menu accordingly, try not to think too low of me. I agree with that, and as such, am doing my best to pick out recipes featuring vegetables that are in season. We all do the best we can.

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