Spring Cabbage Tops with Sesame Vinaigrette

Serves 2-4 as a side

Happy spring!

Today’s post is a quick and simple one to honour beautiful cabbage tops we found at the Vancouver Farmers’ Market a few weeks ago. They were at the Crisp Organic stand and, given that I have a weakness for cabbage aesthetic, I could not pass them up.

That’s right, I bought these fresh picked in February. I can’t begin to say how lucky we are to have access to such beautiful, local greenery in the winter months. I am fully aware that, for most of the country, old man winter is dying hard, resulting in what may go down in the books as the great ice age of 2015.  On the other hand, for us softies living on the West Coast, not only are the cherry and magnolia trees in full blossom, but they are nearly done. I do not take this for granted. As much as I wish I could, I can’t send the warmer weather back east. Regardless of where you live though, I do hope that this post inspires some springtime energy – even if you’re in an area where the thermometer has some catching up to do.

It’s hard to tell from the photos, but these greens are small, with none of the leaves being bigger than the palm of your hand.  The cabbage "heads" at the centre only about the size of a Brussel sprout. Apparently they were planted a bit late and not able to fully develop into large cabbages. This was a very happy accident as far as I’m concerned. The leaves are tender and great for a quick sauté, though could also be torn off and used in salads too. Feel free to substitute kale, chard or spinach. To turn this into a quick weeknight meal, add some additional veggies and protein of your choice,  serve with rice or soba noodles.

Ingredients

  • About 3 cabbage tops, leaves separated; or 1-2 bunches other hearty green of choice
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp grape seed oil
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • ½ tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • Toasted sesame seeds (for garnish, black and white if you have both)

Method

Whisk together dressing ingredients, from sesame oil to rice vinegar, and set-aside.

Separate cabbage leaves, but leave them whole. Wash thoroughly to remove any grit, and remove excess water by shaking or sinning in a salad spinner. A little water left on the leaves is OK and will help the cabbage to steam.

Heat a heavy-bottom pan or wok over medium-high heat.  Add the clean, separated cabbage leaves and using tongs toss gently for about 30 seconds. This will allow all the cabbage to equally access the heat of the pan and begin to soften. Drizzle in prepared dressing and toss to coat.

Leave the cabbage to cook for another minute or two, gently continuing to toss with the tongs until the leaves are just gender but are vibrant green and retain a bit of crunch. Remove from heat and serve immediately, garnished with toasted sesame seeds.

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