Today, we went through the refrigerator to see what we had so we could make something interesting. It's important that sometimes we make due with what's on hand rather than buying new things. So, today, we found that we had some cabbage and some bell peppers. That encouraged us to strart reading our cookbooks to see what interesting thing we could make with either cabbage, bell peppers or both. This is what we found...
Most of the cookbooks use bell peppers for three basic things -- yemista (stuffed peeppers), roasted peppers, or to cut into salad. We just made yemista (and wasn't it delicious!), so we wanted something else. What about cabbage? Are there any cabbage recipes? We had bought cabbage with the thoughts of making cole slaw -- the oil and vinegar kind, but that had not yet materialized. So, is there something else we could do? Of course there is the stuffed cabbage leaves (lahanodolmathes) that are similar to dolmathes (stuffed grape vine leaves) and we'll do that recipe for you eventually. And, there is always coleslaw or cabbage soup. You know, there are so many schools of thought that tell us that cabbage is a good and healthy food. But, some people complain that cabbage creates gas, and some say it has no flavour. In reading this recipe, we think the flavour comes from whatever we add to the cabbage. So, today, we are going to try to make cabbage salad that has flavour, has good nutritional value, and has nice plate appeal.
So, what we learned from reading all of our cookbooks is that each region of Greece has a different type of cabbage salad. Today's recipe hails from the the cookbook titled The Complete Book of Greek Cooking, and has some interesting combinations of flavours that we wanted to try. The book gave no real explanation of the history of this dish, but told us that cabbage based salads are quite common in Greece. So, we figured this would be the equivalent of a Greek Cole Slaw! It is simple shredded cabbage tossed with olives and a light vinaigrette dressing.
For this recipe to serve four you will need:
1 head of cabbage
12 black olives
6 TBSP olive oil
2 TBSP lemon juice
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 TBSP fresh parsley, chopped
Here are the basic directions for this recipe. It should take you less than 20 minutes to cut, mix, and season everything, provided you have all the ingredients on hand.
Now, set that bowl aside, and make the dressing in a separate bowl. You can see by our picture that we mixed the dressing in a measuring cup. It seemed like a practical choice at the time.
|Start by measuring the olive oil.|
|Add the lemon juice.|
|Add the chopped parsley.|
|Chop the garlic.|
|Add the chopped garlic to the other dressing ingredients.|
|Mix all the dressing ingredients well.|
|The dressing may start to look thicker.|
Then, pour the dressing all over the cabbage mixture. You want to make sure to get all the bits of garlic and parsley out of the mixing bowl. That's where the flavour really lies, is in the garlic and parsley.
|Pour the dressing over the cabbage mixture.|
|Mix the salad well.|
|The final product -- Cabbage and Olive Salad.|
Oil, lemon, garlic, and parsley together always make a good dressing. We had no complaints about this combination, but did wonder if it would be enough dressing for the entire head of cabbage. Even hours later, we were pleased with having shredded only half the head of cabbage. This amount of dressing, we think, would have to double if we had more cabbage. But, we liked the dressing.
Now, the tasting:
"Needed a little salt, or a little more lemon juice," was the common reaction. There was something missing to round out the flavour. Husband ended up adding a little vinegar, just to give this salad a punch of flavour. It was crunchy, too. I guess we are part of the culture that is used to eating softer cabbage. This was really crunchy. Some people like that, so for other people this might be good.
We loved the olives in the mix. It was like eating marinated olives with some crunchy salad. Have you eaten olives that have oil, oregano and a little of the olive brine -- yummy! So, the dressing with the lemon juice and parsley really stuck to the olives. Although, by the second bite, we all agreed that the olives would have been better as pitted olives, but you would lose the whole effect of these luscious, beautiful fruits in this salad.
We must say that this salad looked beautiful! It looked so pretty with the colours of the black shiny olives, the deep green parsley, and the fresh white cabbage coming together... By its looks, alone, this salad really stood out on the dinner table as something unique, light and appealing.
So the overall taste of this salad was pleasant. It had a light flavour, a definite crunch, and a variety of textures. It was different, and we want to make note that it did taste better after a couple of hours, when the lemon juice had a chance to sink into the cabbage and soften the shreds.
The biggest barrier for us was getting past our predetermination that this salad should have been like coleslaw, with a delightful and tangy bite. When that wasn't true, we had to wait a bit and have a little more. Then, we realized that the flavours were well blended, the olives and the cabbage gave nice off-setting textures, and the salad was softer and still looked beautiful. So, you will have to try it for yourself and tell us about your experience.