I am a bit mulish. I am wary of the Next Big Thing. This time of year, it’s difficult to keep this part of me in check. The lists. I hate all the lists. This Big Thing was cool in 2012, but all these Big Things will be SO IN in 2013. And so on. I am starting to sound like your cantankerous grandpa, so hear me out: We are smarter and more creative than this. I can’t help but think we all need to swallow down a hefty dose of I-don’t-care-what-the-eff-anyone-else-thinks.
We are messy, crazy people running about this world doing tiny, gorgeous things out of necessity or expression or love or nostalgia. We demean those beautiful acts if we let anyone or anything else tell us what to do or eat or be. The writers I love most to read, the cooks about whom I love most to learn, the friends with whom I love most to spend time—they are timelessly interesting because they do their own thing. So: cabbage. There are strong opinions about cabbage out there, whether as its Irish-inspired corned beef accompaniment or in kimchi or as coleslaw. I buy savoy cabbage for the sheer reason that it’s so pretty, the frilly party dress of cabbages, a tight package with come-hither flared edges. After I admire it, though, it tends to languish in my crisper until I have to do something with it. This time around, I did what I always do when at a loss with vegetables: blast them on high heat with a little olive oil and salt.
Magic happens, it turns out, with cabbage: the outer leaves become caramelized and crispy, and the insides become buttery and tender. With a little acidity to balance out the sweet-roasted cabbage, you have a savory side or elegant first course for winter meals. Possibly wedge salads are retro and unfashionable (or are they back in?), and possibly cabbage itself is passé (or is that Brussels sprouts?), but this is easy and good, and that is all I want for 2013.
“If a man does not keep pace with his companions,“ Thoreau quipped, “Perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.” Cheers to the new year, friends, I think we’ve got good things in store.
A quick housekeeping note: I’ve added an FAQ page on the sidebar over there <— if you’re interested. Far from exhaustive, but I tried to collect a growing list of questions that appear in my inbox and answered them here.
Roasted cabbage wedge salad
I think savoy cabbage is the prettiest, but this will work with Napa or red cabbage as well, with mild variations in flavor. If a whole roasted cabbage is too much for you (as it is for the two of us), do roast the whole cabbage. Covered and refrigerated, it will be ready throughout the week to include in soups and stir-fries.
- 1 head savoy cabbage
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
- Kosher salt
- For the vinaigrette:
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- Kosher salt
- Fresh ground black pepper
- For assembly:
- Pecorino romano cheese
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Using a large, sharp knife, quarter the cabbage. Depending on the size of your cabbage, these quarters may be good size already. If they seem too large for one plate, halve each of the quarters so you have eight cabbage wedges. Trim away any very pithy or brown ends of the core, but leave the core intact. The core will hold the wedges together while roasting.
- Arrange the cabbage wedges on a baking sheet. Drizzle the cabbages with the olive oil, and then sprinkle liberally with kosher salt.
- Transfer the baking sheet to the oven. Roast the cabbage for 30 minutes, flipping the wedges at 15 minutes so they brown evenly. At the conclusion of roasting, the cabbages may have some blackened, crispy outer leaves. If you don’t want this, feel free to take them out a few minutes early, but note that the inside of the cabbage may be less tender than if you had left it in longer.
- While the cabbage is roasting, make your vinaigrette: whisk together olive oil, sherry vinegar, and dijon. Taste the vinaigrette and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- When the cabbage is finished quickly, work quickly: Plate the cabbage wedges, drizzle with vinaigrette, and grate pecorino romano over the top. Serve immediately, while the cabbage is still hot.