Braised Cabbage with Apples and Carrots

Braised Cabbage with Apples and Carrots

Whole, vegan comfort food

 

Well, our winter finally bit. It toyed with us for a little while there, doing a convincing Bay Area dance around 50 with a healthy dose of showers, when suddenly Mother Nature slammed on the brakes and froze us over with the midwestern chill we know so well. I've been going out in my big cocoon coat with four layers underneath and to tell you the truth I'm a little relieved. At least the seasons are revolving more or less as they should be, even if the freeze is a little tardy.

Of course, this newly arrived arctic ambiance means that I've been reaching for the warm and toasty comforts. I've been drinking boatloads of tea, taking plenty more hot showers than usual, and running to the corner of my living room to curl up in front of the furnace every time it goes on. I'm a simple, rather feline creature, and I like my warm things. 

I also like my wintry comfort foods, but my new resolution to keep my eats on the vegan and super-frugal side of things means that such seasonal classics as baked mac and cheese are no longer on the table. Instead, I've got to find ways to make fruits and veggies into comfort foods. This challenge has mostly resulted in my nuking up a whole lot of lard-free refried beans, but in an effort to get some real, whole plants into my system, I recently went ahead and bought a cabbage. It felt right. It's a winter vegetable, it's green and leafy, it's round and sturdy like a bowling ball. I don't think I'd ever cooked it to satisfaction before this time, but I went ahead with it despite the follies of my past. And by God, I was going to turn that plant into a warm and sticky comfort food fit for the bitterest of winter nights.

I started with an Orangette recipe, figuring braising until tender would be the way to go. I wanted to play up the cabbage's natural sweetness a bit, so I tossed some apple on top of the original formula, figuring baked apple is a delicacy that can't go wrong. The result was a nice, simple, clean but still zesty batch of flavors that turned a trayful of plant matter into a dish hearty enough to eat on its own for supper. That there's some alchemy.

You will need:

  • 1 medium green cabbage head, about 2 lbs
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 carrot (I used up the bottom of a bag of babies)
  • 1-2 tart apples (Fuji worked nicely for me)
  • 1/4 cup water (or veggie stock)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Pinch nutmeg

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Slice up your onion, your apples, and your carrots. Rinse the cabbage and cut into eight wedges, making sure you get rid of all that awkward core matter at the bottom. Lay your wedges out in a brownie pan, then scatter the rest of your veggies and fruits on top. Coat the pan with water and oil, then sprinkle your vinegar, salt, and spices to taste on top. Cover the pan tightly with foil, then pop it in the oven. Flip the cabbage wedges at the one-hour mark and add any additional oil and water as needed. The cabbage should be tender and tasty after another hour, although my sluggish oven took an extra fifteen minutes or so. And that's all there is; enjoy this slow-burning, high-reward healthful treat through the frost.