See that giant cabbage? That thing has been sitting in my refrigerator for a little less than a month.
I bought it because I wanted to try my hand at making homemade egg rolls. It was one of those weeks when we were just too busy to go to the grocery store, so I put an order in through Fresh Direct instead. I love Fresh Direct; I love being able to select and "do my groceries" at my desk while eating lunch and knowing that they'll show up the next day within my desired window. Actually, I love grocery delivery services in general. When I lived in DC I used to order from Peapod constantly, and would occasionally--just for fun--spend an evening ticking off an imaginary shopping list and adding it to my virtual cart. Think of it as my Fantasy Football.
The quality of food from these services is generally pretty fantastic, but there is one tiny problem to ordering groceries online; it's difficult to properly gauge sizes. Without fail, each time the groceries arrive and Eugene and I go into the kitchen to unpack and put things away, I'll find myself pulling out a ridiculously tiny bottle of honey or olive oil that on the page had seemed like a good bargain but which in reality is actually just...small.
This time, though, it was totally the opposite. Among the bags of tomatoes and cucumbers I'd ordered, I found a head of cabbage the size of a watermelon.
"What the heck?!" I cried as I hefted the baby-sized object out of the box. Eugene looked at it and noted, "that's a lot of cabbage." I checked the tag; seven pounds! The irony of it all being that I'd ordered this particular type because the price had been very low (less than a dollar a pound). I'd assumed I'd be spending perhaps 3 or 3.50 for the cabbage. Certainly not $7!
Storage also posed another problem as it did not fit into the crisper. I finally wedged it onto the top shelf among the milk and yogurt, where it remained until this weekend, when I realized it was time to do something about it.
I'd long since lost the energy or enthusiasm that homemade egg rolls required, so instead I hunted around the Internet for "easy cabbage recipes." I was lucky to stumble onto this recipe for Jeremy Fox's Savoy cabbage slaw via The Wednesday Chef and used that as a basis for my own version. What appealed to me was the fact that unlike the slaws of my youth--those overly-sweet diner variety slathered in mayonnaise and inexplicably served with just about everything you order--this one was actually quite elegant and exciting on the palate.
The dressing itself is a mustard-based vinaigrette that marries beautifully with the toasted pecans (the original recipes called for walnuts, but it's what I had on hand). It's warm and cozy and tastes of autumn. I served it with some slices of baked ham that I simmered in a bouillon of chicken stock, apple butter, and herbs, for a perfect marriage of sweet, salty, and tangy.
Eugene, who has an ironic distaste for vinegar (despite his love of all things pickled), was hesitant at first, but quickly could not stop commenting on the way the pecans, ham, and slaw all went perfectly together. And just look at how he cleaned his plate! If you make this, please don't skip the nuts (unless you're allergic, of course).
Napa Cabbage Slaw with Mustard & Apple Butter Vinaigrette
adapted from a recipe by Jeremy Fox, via The Wednesday Chef
For the Vinaigrette:
2 rounded tablespoons creamy or grainy Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup apple butter
1/3 cup olive oil
For the slaw:
4 cups Napa cabbage, shredded thinly
1 Granny Smith apple
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup pecans, toasted and cooled
Salt and black pepper to taste
1. Make the vinaigrette: In a bowl, mix together mustard, salt, vinegar, apple butter and honey. Slowly whisk in olive oil a little at a time until the dressing emulsifies into a creamy golden hue. Taste and adjust for seasoning, then set aside.
2. Make the salad: Put the cabbage in a large bowl.
3. Core , but don't peel, the apple and shred in the food processor or with box grater. Put the shredded apple into a bowl filled with lemon juice and 2 cups water, to prevent apple from browning. Strain and then add to the cabbage.
4. Toss the slaw with the vinaigrette and serve topped with the toasted pecans.