When the budget is tight, I try to stretch meals and use seasonal foods. Cabbage is a great deal any time of the year, but particularly during the St. Patrick’s Day sales in March. But poor cabbage has a bad rap – it has been described as tasteless and gas-inducing, and downright smelly when cooked. Families disappear when they know it is on the menu, and it is often touted as the least favorite vegetable of children.
But it’s cheap and healthy. I recently bought a 3-pound cabbage for under a dollar. Cabbage is a nutritional cannonball: It is a source of Vitamin K, Vitamin C and riboflavin and it improves digestion. And its lasting power in the refrigerator is pretty amazing – about two weeks.
Cabbage can lend extra flavor to soups or stews, add crunch to a salad or take the place of lettuce in a taco. I add shredded cabbage to pasta dishes or sauces and no one is the wiser. Steamed shredded cabbage can be served with Parmesan cheese or a cheese sauce as a side dish.
Although it is traditionally linked to Irish cooking, it can be found in many Asian and Indian dishes. So I reached out to Monica Bhide, author of Modern Spice: Inspired Indian Flavors for the Contemporary Kitchen. She offers Living on the Cheap readers some easy but flavorful ways to use cabbage, which is known in India as “band ghobi.”
Monica’s first recipe, Muttakos Poriyal, or cabbage with black mustard seeds, is a southern Indian dish. It is a heated dish, but takes less than a half hour to prepare and cook.
Hara Salaad is a cold salad and suggests allowing an hour to chill before serving. The recipe calls for a package of shredded cabbage and carrot coleslaw, but the same amount of carrots and cabbage can be shredded by hand. Tamarind paste is found in the ethnic section of your supermarket, and the packed palm sugar can be substituted with brown sugar.
The third recipe is Bundh Gobi Ka Salaad, or Maharastrian cabbage salad, which is also served cold. The crunch of whole peanuts and the sweet taste of coconut give the lowly cabbage a surprising new flavor, and it’s wonderful served with tomato soup. I have become a fan of this recipe because of its flavor as well as ease of preparation.
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